A great many people have no concern about the salvation of their souls. They are not atheists or infidels, nor do they make any profession of being saved––they are simply indifferent to the whole matter. If the thought of having to do with God comes into their minds, they comfort themselves by a comparison of their own state with that of their fellows, and they conclude that as they are not worse than others, and perhaps better than many, there is no reason why they should have any concern as to their spiritual state. Any occasional alarm is quickly stilled by the thought that God is merciful––a sentiment which in the mind of an indifferent sinner means that he likes to think of God as One whose judgement of sin is as shallow as his own. It is to this large body of people, and to each individual in it, that the following plain words are addressed.
You are not indifferent to things which affect your health, your circumstances, the prosperity of your business, or your future in life. Nor are you uninterested in current events and great social movements. You are deeply concerned when your child is sick, and lies on the border–line between life and death. You spend much time in discussing the political questions of the day. You have regard to the maintenance of your credit, character, and reputation. Then why be so indifferent to that which is of vastly greater importance than all these put together––your eternal salvation? A friendly voice asks you the question which once rang in the startled ear of Jonah: “What meanest thou, sleeper?” (Jon. 1: 6).
You would be the first to condemn the folly of indifference if you saw it displayed when good opportunities presented themselves for material gain, academic improvement, or social elevation. Yet eternal gain is within your reach, and the greatest possible elevation is offered to you without awakening in your heart the least desire to secure it for yourself. What would we say of a sick man who took no interest in what was known to be an unfailing cure for his disease? Of a criminal sentenced to death who was indifferent when news of a royal pardon was brought to his cell? Of a drowning man who would not regard the life–line which he sees within his reach? You would say of such persons that they were bereft of their senses. Then what must we think of a sinful creature who has no care or anxiety about his soul, and who looks upon the Gospel as unworthy of his notice?
Furthermore, such a course is fraught with danger. To walk blindfold on the edge of a precipice is a dangerous as well as foolish performance. Unbelief does not get rid of God, responsibility, sins, judgement or eternity. The peril is great and real––do not trifle with it.
Another fact deserves consideration: indifference will soon have an end. You may look upon the things of a future life as being unknowable, and may throw aside all serious thought about them with the flippant assertion that ‘Nobody has come back to tell us’. You may treat the soul’s relations with God, and all that He has made known, as merely matters of opinion. Such thoughts can only delude you for a very short time. The poor comfort that they give will be snatched away by the hand of death. The man who probably never prayed on earth, prayed earnestly in hades (see Luke 16: 19–31). He who would have laughed at any spiritual concern was now anxious about the souls of his brethren. The virgins who cared nothing about the oil until it was too late to buy, were in great diligence about it then, but could only give vent to their anguish in the unanswered cry “Lord, Lord, open to us” (Matt. 25: 11). Sad, sad, that bitter wail “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8: 20).
I would have you consider carefully that indifference to the Gospel is a sin of no ordinary kind––it is pure and simple wickedness. To rightly estimate this we must call to mind what it is that men treat with indifference. It is the claims of God that we set at naught, and the grace of God that is despised. The gift of the Son of God, His work of infinite love at Calvary, the glory which that work has thrown open, and all the present blessings of the salvation of God––all, all are only so many trifles to the indifferent sinner. He can afford to treat them all with contemptuous disregard. After the resources of divine love have been taxed to the utmost, after the heart of God has told itself out in the most wonderful way, after all the treasures of heavenly grace have been presented for acceptance, after the invitation has gone forth in its fullness––“Come, for already all things are ready” (Luke 14: 17)––the insulting answer which comes back to the Giver of the feast is ‘I pray thee have me excused, I have other and more important matters in hand, I cannot come’.
It is at infinite cost that God has secured for Himself in righteousness the title of Saviour God. The Son has been given, the Lord Jesus has died, and the whole universe can see at the Cross of Christ that God is neither indifferent to sin, nor to the need of His poor creature who has fallen under its power. Then let indifference be banished from your heart! Turn in true repentance to God and receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. God has not been indifferent to your need. May you not be so foolish as to be indifferent yourself!