Mar 30, 2013

A Big Hoax on our Little Human Race

Have you ever encountered someone to whom your existence truly didn’t matter?  They don’t hate you – no, nothing so passionate.  Nor do they love.  They are simply indifferent.  I’ve met a few, and it unsettles me in a way hatred doesn’t.  I watch them walk away and everything inside me wants to cry, “I’m real!  I matter!  I should matter to you!”  

A cold snowstorm hit recently and my back door warped slightly.  The neighbor I asked wouldn’t help me push it closed enough to lock it—he told me later he was calculating how much he would normally be paid for doing “work”, and knew that my request for the help of his strength came with no money attached.  I spent the night in an unbolted house.  (Not a great idea in my neighborhood.)  The man doesn’t hate me – he just didn’t care.

I’m told that some men are just like that.  If you don’t annoy them, and don’t inspire love or lust in them, it’s said they don’t have the attention span or emotional capacity to engage in the meaningful exchanges of personhood, one valuing another.  They’re not trying to be mean – it’s just the way they are.  A fact of gender. 

This isn’t true. 

God is not indifferent, which means he didn’t create Adam (or Eve) with the trait either.  Where it exists, it’s a product of sin-nature, not gender.  A big hoax has been played on our little human race.  In fact, one of the worst and most effectively pervasive accusations against the character of God is that He’s indifferent.  Forget angry God or judgmental God – uninvolved God is Satan’s optimum lie.  It works better than the others.  With a deep, even if unarticulated, knowledge of sin, the average man feels God would be a little justified if He was angry or judging.  But, having had the breath of the Creator breathed into our lungs at the very beginning, each of us knows that in one way or another, we are of value – and that an indifferent God is a travesty against all that is natural and supernatural. 

God himself hates our own indifference.  He wishes, in Revelation, that we were either hot or cold … but this wishy-washy lukewarmth that doesn’t really care one way or the other – this indifference – is disgusting to him.  He calls that sort of a person shamefully naked, a blind man.  (Rev. 3) 

I know a “blind” man or two.  After interactions with them I feel general confusion and sadness - it takes a while for me to realize my soul is reeling from one of the most powerful darts of all – the lie that I don’t matter. 

A few years ago I had a dream.  The setting: the Great Tribulation.  The characters:  me and a bunch of bad guys.  As these men loaded pallets in a warehouse for shipping (the cargo was WMD or something as terrible) I calmly repeated to the foreman, “What you are doing is wrong.  What you are doing is wrong.”  I was ignored.  Finally, annoyed that a droning voice had been bothering him for too long, he turned and sent me to the ground with one solid, emotionless blow across the face.  I lay still, unable to rise as they continued loading.  He hadn’t hit me in anger, or out of frustration at the content of my message.  In fact, I was about as important as a fly.  He simply wanted the noise to stop.  A great realization came to me on that concrete floor.  I’d always thought persecution would be overt, direct, and angry.  But indifference… what an entirely different world this was.  Even hatred directed at a human acknowledges their humanness, their substance and existence as a soul.  At the end of the dream an old friend entered and passed me by, ignoring my injured state.  But her 12-year-old daughter walked in and saw, and stooped.  Oh, I was a human again.  She saw me! 

We’re well-rehearsed in our expectation of persecution and tribulation during the End Times.  Yet, we will still be surprised.  For it may not be hatred that rounds us up and tosses us overboard.  It may be indifference.  And that is a very different blow to our psyches.  Hatred I might meet with bravery, or anger with peace.  But before indifference my soul forgets it is a soul and my existence forgets I exist.  My heart forgets it is loved and my thoughts forget they are important.  I wonder if I am known or am worth knowing.  If today, when the sting of one man’s indifference to me can only be eased from inside the affirming arms of my Creator, what will the planet’s indifference do?  For indifference is injustice at its deepest – more so than hatred is – an injustice that disaffirms the essential value of existence.

We who think we’re so ready to remain loving under persecution may have a whole different arena of sanctification to go through when indifference hits us instead of hatred.  Our wills are strong enough to stand up to hatred on their own.  But without real intimacy between us and the Lover of our souls, we cannot come warm and unfrozen through the long tundra of indifference. 

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

I suppose Satan’s great victory would be to convince us, not to slip to hate, but to linger in that cold world of indifference, and become indifferent ourselves to all who would be indifferent to us. 

God’s answer has always been clear.  He is not indifferent, and neither are we designed to be.  And the only thing that will keep us alive and joyful is not a hardened indifference to persecution or enemies, but a vulnerability-producing love for those enemies.  Yes, it will make us more "hurtable", but in the end, it will save our souls.

When we are not indifferent - when our hearts ache every time we offer love and have it boomeranged back at us - then we may become a bruised but living answer to a world that has actually believed God Himself indifferent to their own souls.  He isn't, and neither are we!