Are You Actually a Christian Apatheist? Here’s What You Can Do About It.

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Something triggered my soul in Kyle Beshears’ outstanding book Apatheism: How We Share When They Don’t Care. Beshears writes, “Rarely, if ever, in the history of our faith have Christians faced the kind of indifference toward God that we experience today.”[1] So I asked myself: Is it because we as Christians are apathetic to the apatheist? It has become abundantly clear to me recently that many Christians have a Christ-less heart towards those in our workplace who are apathetic towards God. We want more Christ in the world, but we are making it much harder for Christ to be seen.

Why is this the case? For starters, our workplace attitudes towards our co-workers must improve. Take, for example, a recent encounter someone close to me had at work: A confessing Christian at her work has been mistreating another employee because the other employee’s lifestyle does not correspond to the Christians beliefs. The Christian went out of her way to make the working environment unpleasant for this other employee. She was snarky, rude, and outright mean. The Christian is showing her Christian Apatheism.

Christian Apatheism, as I define it, is claiming to hold true to the gospel message and being a Christian while being apathetic towards others who don’t meet the standard we think they should. Some, like Beshears, would place Christian Apatheism in the category of Practical Atheism. Beshears defines Practical Atheism as those in our church who are Christians by what they believe but behave as if God is not important.[2] So we could say that this Christian in the example above is a Practical Atheist, but she is also a Christian Apatheist. She doesn’t care, so why should she share? One could argue that the Christian is behaving this way because they care about God and His word and wants her co-worker to live appropriately. But being a jerk for Jesus has never convinced anyone to change. It took a real loving relationship, with someone who I knew did not approve of my life before becoming a Christian, to share their faith but also live it out for the world to see for me to even consider Christianity as true.

Being apathetic to the apathetic will cause more harm than good.

Caring in the Workplace

Christians are called to be the “salt” and “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-16). We are called to “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:18-20) and are told to “have our speech always be gracious as though seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). I also struggle in the workplace with Christian Apatheism because it’s hard to see those with whom I spend eight or more hours a day live as if God means nothing. But I don’t think their apathy towards God is the only problem. It’s my and our apathy towards sharing that’s the issue.

As Christians, we spend our weeks in the world, trying not to be of the world. But we fall short due to our sinful nature. We are still being “conformed to the image of the Son” (Romans 8:29). We see those around us fall short in their lives and scoff rather than share the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). But if we do share, would they listen? Is our life exhibiting Christ or the world? Our Practical Atheism is causing us to be Christian Apatheists because we don’t care to share. After all, they won’t listen. Do you blame them?

Strategies to Overcome Christian Apatheism

First, remember your new identity in Christ: Our baptism in Christ’s death and resurrection should be a daily reminder that we are raised to life by our Lord, Savior, and King. Paul tells the church of Galatia, “I have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). Our workplace image must reflect our Sunday image. I would not be a Christian today if not for that one person in my life who lived out what they believed.

Second, sharing is caring: We all heard the saying as a child in pre-school. Sharing the gospel is a fundamental work in the Christian life. Christians don’t share to earn salvation; they share because they have salvation. In a section in Beshears’ book, he talks about joy at great lengths. Salvation and knowing we have salvation in Christ alone, is the joy all Christians have. We should share this joy with all.

Lastly, those in Adam will act like Adam: In the example above, the Christian acts like they are holier than thou because the non-Christian doesn’t meet her standards. We shouldn’t be surprised that those who don’t know our joy in Christ are not living for Christ. So, we shouldn’t stoop to the same level. We can meet them where they are without conforming to the world. We don’t have to be of the world to go to the world. Being apathetic to the apathetic will cause more harm than good.

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[1] Kyle Beshears, Apatheism: How We Share When They Don’t Care, (B&H Academic, Nashville, TN: 2021), p. 115.
[2] Ibid., p. 57.

Eric Wendt

Eric Wendt is a ThM Student studying Historical Theology at Southeastern Seminary.

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