Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thoughtlessness and skepticism

Matthew 25:45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

I have lately begun turning my attention more and more towards older books.  My reasons for doing so are myriad, but among them are:

1) frugality - most older books can be found very inexpensively.  If you don't mind reading electronic versions, many of them are free.  There are so many very good, meaty, interesting books available for free, why would I want to spend $10 or more on a book that will never be of similar literary quality to any number of books that I can obtain for free?

2) interest - many of my interests are piqued just as well by books written 50 or 100 years ago at least as well as, and often more than, newer books. 

3) quality - I have found that many books written within the last 20 years or so are increasingly formulaic, vulgar, and generally full of puffery with very little substance.

So, yes, when it comes to reading material, I'm a bit of a cheapskate.  But I also love the classics.  Any book worth reading is worth reading at least three or four times.  If you can't gain some insight from a book on a second or third reading, you're probably wasting your time reading it the first time.

Now, I can almost hear you wondering if there's going to be a point - or at least some attempt to reconcile the scripture quoted at the top with the ramblings beneath it.

Yes.

There is a point.  And here it is.  I've been reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, mainly because I found the Kindle version for free on Amazon, and it's been many years since I read it.  And today, while I was reading I came across this quote.  It's a statement made by Augustine St. Clair to his cousin Ophelia, and it goes like this:

"... and I confess that the apathy of religious people on this subject [slavery], their want of perception of wrongs that filled me with horror, have engendered in me more skepticism than any other thing."

Think about that for just a moment.  The one thing that had the most to do with keeping St. Clare from becoming a Christian was the apathy of professing Christians.  Let me say that again.  The one thing that had the most to do with keeping St. Clare from becoming a Christian was the apathy of professing Christians.

As I read that quote over several times, I couldn't help but wonder what things I've turned a blind eye to, what small injustices that I decided weren't worth getting upset over, what big things that I decided were too big for my one voice to make a difference, what thing that has become so commonplace that I simply don't notice anymore.  How many people has my apathy turned away?  How many souls have been pushed an inch (or a mile) further away from God because of my unconcern? 

I think the point Jesus was making is that not every sin is something we do or say.  Just as often, my sin is in something I DON'T do or say.  Or as James put it, "therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."  (James 4:17)

My prayer for today is that God would open my eyes to my thoughtlessness that is contributing to someone else's skepticism, and soften my heart to lay that thoughtlessness aside and do what I know is good.