At a recent congregational meeting at my church, I read from Jeremiah 6:16-17 – Message. I did not comment expect to say, “this is the word of the Lord.” “Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. But they said, ‘Nothing doing, We aren’t going that way.’ I even provided watchmen for them, to warn them, to set off the alarm. But the people said, ‘It’s a false alarm. It doesn’t concern us.'” These words could describe the passive attitude of many Christian men, who being unaffirmed, not having a sense of well being in Jesus, capitulate to the dominant narrative they absorb every day.
Jeremiah’s words reflects the concept of “apatheism,” which answers the God question with a shrug and a calm “Whatever.” Ben Sixsmith and Paul Rowan write, “With roots in the practical atheism and deism of the Enlightenment, ‘apatheism’ is embodied in French philosopher Denis Diderot’s famous remark that ‘it is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all.'” They go on the write about the “unholy trinity of apatheism” – a lack of reason to believe, a lack of motivation to believe and lack of will to believe.
In a culture that is growing skeptical and ever hostile to a biblical worldview, we will be tempted to compromise our core beliefs and fall victim to “apatheism.” Are you committed to the truth? Are you tempted to compromise the truth in your private life? Are you indifferent and unwilling to speak the truth? Peter challenges us, “Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy” ( I Peter 3: 14-15 – Message).
Today you might be standing before a crossroad in your life journey, possibly about the compromise your core beliefs. Be warned!! This will bring cracks into the foundation of your character. Jeremiah invites you to go stand and look around. This implies not being in a hurry. Slow down, while asking for directions in finding the “old road, the tired-and-true road.” The NIV says, “the ancient paths.” This is why we all need a “band of brothers,” who provide “the mutual consolation” of other like minded men. Find other mature men who have walked on the “ancient paths.”
Men, when you stand at the crossroads or that fork in the road, you and you alone will have to choose. At the core of the masculine soul is the call to “orientation, direction, order and responsibility.” That is, make the right decision and stick with it. Mark my words, you will be tested in your resolve to follow through on taking the initiative. Don’t let self-piety, self-hatred or anger get the best of your discerning. The choices you make bring you into the frontlines of the battle in our culture over truth, order, integrity and honesty. Your voice and character are needed right where you are, in our sphere of influence. Don’t join those around you saying, “Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.”
In the process, “You will find rest for your souls” (v16 NIV). You will be able to walk through the chaos, uncertainty and mistrust all around you. God will provide watchmen to warn us, setting off an alarm. Don’t be caught saying, ‘It’s a false alarm. It doesn’t concern us.”