This past Saturday I had the opportunity to preach at Aldersgate. We are in the middle of a sermon series focusing on the Seven Deadly Sins. I preached on ‘sloth’ and used Mark 10.17-31 as my text. I want to share with you my notes and writing on the topic below. You will also find audio of my sermon at the bottom of this post.
Apathy and sloth are enablers. They veil our view of the world, with the possibility of creating a sense of self-pity and self-centeredness. We are enabled to turn the tables on the outstretched hand and respond with blaming and judgement. Sloth enables us to walk out of the Verizon Center, Nationals Park, or a Metro station and walk past a human being seeking help, and without even for a second, feeling a sense of empathy or sadness. Sloth enables us to blind ourselves to the opportunity to accept the invitation of grace and love from God through another human being.
Apathy and sloth create a sense of depression – just like the rich young man who became sad and grieved as he walked away from Jesus; grieving so much that he was not even able to stick around for the rest of Jesus’ explanation. Our apathy causes us to despairingly resign from the world around us. We feel a sense of inner tension, feeling trapped within ourselves. We cannot escape our truth, that we have fallen short of the spiritual tasks calling to us from God, yet at the same time we can also refuse to even face that calling.
There is an inward unwillingness to move and an outward sluggishness that reflects the state of our heart. Our religious identity and vocation are at risk when our apathy is allowed to consume us. Sloth turns our spiritual calling into an unbearable burden that we rather “run away (or retreat) and be free from”. Thomas Aquinas said that sloth is “a sort of depression which stops us doing anything, a weariness with work, a torpor spirit which delays getting down to doing anything good.”
So What Am I Supposed To Do?
Love Requires Submission
Responding to God’s love, as it manifests through others, requires us to submit. We must give up the preconceived notions of our own identity and vocation to fully submit to God. In order to remove the laziness, lack of courage, sadness, and desensitization, we must open ourselves to the expectation that God’s love will manifest itself not only through a risen Savior, but possibly through the love that extends through two outstretched arms meeting in service to one another. Just as the love in a marriage is able to grow and become fruitful as spouses submit to one another, so to must we submit ourselves before God. That is exactly what Jesus is telling Peter in verses twenty-nine and thirty.
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
Joining the family of Christ allows disciples of Jesus to enter into a family of faith where laziness, lack of courage, sadness, and desensitization are replaced by faith, hope, and love. Those who join in the love of God enter into a few family, submitting to one another and to God. And unlike the rich young man, we must be willing to give up this life so that we might inherit eternal life.