I have a good friend and apologist who posted on Facebook the other day. It wasn’t her normal careful, reasoned response. It was angry and belittling — not at all like her. I sent her a private message that said something along the lines of, “I love you, friend! Do you think your recent post invites fruitful discussion?” She immediately took it down, and we had a nice talk about how beat down we feel right now (because you know… #2020). And then she brought up Matthew 24:12 which, I think, hits the nail on the head.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
Oh my gosh, yes. I see this. I feel this. This world is sometimes too much for me. There is so much anger, so much hatred, so much fear. Sooooooo much fear. It is tempting to just shut down completely. Because if you can’t feel anything, then you can’t feel anything bad, amirite?
And that’s what it looks like for our love to grow cold.
Mama bears, this is not an option for us. We are fierce, but if we are not first known by our love, then we are clanging gongs (1 Corinthians 13:1). It is so easy to become callous, loveless, numb, robotic machines just trying to make it through the day. How do we guard ourselves against it?It is tempting to just shut down completely. Because if you can’t feel anything, then you can’t feel anything bad anymore, amirite? This is not an option. #love Click To Tweet
Tip #1: Expect to be tempted by callousness.
The letter to the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-5) warns us against this:
“I know your deeds, your labor, and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and you have tested and exposed as liars those who falsely claim to be apostles. Without growing weary, you have persevered and endured many things for the sake of My name. But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. Therefore, keep in mind how far you have fallen. Repent and perform the deeds you did at first. But if you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
That should be convicting. I know it is for me. The church in Ephesus was facing the same thing we are facing: there was so much evil, and so many false teachers, and so many false apostles that they finally said, “Enough. Does the world want to burn itself down? Throw me the marshmallows. Church of Ephesus, out.” Yes, they chose to keep themselves from being tainted by the world, but they did so at the expense of love. And without love, they invited God’s judgment.
I feel this same temptation. There are dangerous ideologies outside the church and dangerous ideologies slipping into the church! Good grief, is anywhere safe?! We watch as culture tries to fix spiritual problems with worldly solutions. And make no mistake: worldly solutions are like the hydra of solutions: you cut off one problem, and three more sprout up in its place. The transforming work of the gospel is the only permanent solution. If a solution fixes an external problem without changing a man or woman’s internal heart, it is temporary. Temporary solutions are just future rebellions waiting for an opportunity. The world tries to modify behavior without addressing the root cause, and we, the supposedly enlightened, sit back and scoff as people reap the consequences of their own folly. It’s either that or cry, right?
Lord, I pray that you wake us up if our love begins to grow cold. And mama bears, if you feel the cynicism creeping over you, take it back to the Lord. If you see it happening in someone close to you, lovingly encourage them back to love. Even if that means we have to feel the pain.If you feel the cynicism creeping over you, take it back to the Lord. If you see it happening in someone close to you, lovingly encourage them back to love. Even if that means we have to feel the pain. Click To Tweet
Tip #2: Expect to feel the pain of the world.
I am one of those lucky/cursed people who have a strong spiritual sensitivity. I am physically affected by reading nonsense (just ask anyone close to me). I have been struggling a lot with wanting to just shut down completely and feel nothing. There is a name for this kind of disorder when it happens physically: it’s called leprosy.
People used to think that leprosy was a skin condition. What we now know is that it is actually a neurological condition in which a person progressively loses their ability to feel. So all those lesions on their body aren’t the result of a virus or bacteria. They are the result of lost reflexes that tell a person to remove their hand from a hot stove or alert them when they’ve gotten a papercut. Little injuries turn into big problems precisely because they can no longer feel when something is wrong.
That’s essentially what happens to our soul when we emotionally shut down. It may feel better to have that nice, thick callous over our hearts. We no longer have to live with the anxiety from living in a world gone mad. But it’s not a healthy way to live, especially not as the body of Christ. We stop looking like His beautiful bride and morph into a spiritually leprous bride — one which the world (rightfully) rejects.
Tip #3: Shut off, not down.
There is a difference between shutting down and shutting off. Our minds will elevate that which we feed it. Are we feeding it images of riots, political arguments, and worldwide catastrophes? Or are we feeding our minds Scripture, worship, and gratitude?
When we refuse to shut off, we shut down.
We experience emotional overload to the point where we can no longer process the evil in our world. And while we may protect our temporary sanity, we lose our eternal witness. We are no longer able to empathize and think critically. We explode in what we see as “righteous anger” on social media, and then pat ourselves on the back for speaking truth, counting up the number of “likes” from other people who are too scared to speak their minds as boldly. And while we may be technically “right” we cannot smack people over the head with truth and expect them to thank us for it. Nor can we expect them to love truth.
So if you find yourself being overwhelmed by evil in the world, maybe it’s time to shut off before you shut down. Mama Bears, sometimes we have to shut off before we shut down. Click To Tweet
Tip #4: Dust off our crosses.
Be strong, mama bears. There are fearful things in this world, but we are not to grieve (or fear!) as the world does. We are called to take up our cross daily — and that is a scary thought. Our crosses may have been collecting dust in our spiritual closets. We are called to count the cost of following Christ. For our brothers and sisters around the world in persecuted countries, this has meant imprisonment, loss of jobs, burning down of their homes, and more.
We, in our cushy Western world, have not had to count the cost of following Christ in the same way. We cry persecution when someone blocks us on Twitter! (#facepalm) But the times, they are a-changin’. We, as Christians, are the ideological minority, and we’re about to start feeling the pinch. It’s time to pull out our crosses, dust them off, and start carrying them — no matter what that looks like for us. We don’t just follow Christ unto death. We follow Christ unto a difficult life, however long that may be. We follow Christ unto being fired from our jobs, unto being reviled, hated, and condemned by the world. We even follow Christ unto heartache from this broken world — a heartache we desperately want to anesthetize. The alternative is for our love to grow cold. And mama bears, that is not an option. We don't just follow Christ unto death. We follow Christ unto a difficult life. #love #takeupyourcross Click To Tweet
Hillary Morgan Ferrer is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. She is coauthor and editor of the Mama Bear Apologetics book, and has been married to her husband, Dr. John D. Ferrer, for over 12 years. She is working on her second master’s degree, and yet can’t seem to figure out the simplest cooking recipes.