Appendix No. 3

„The Effect of Lukewarmness and Indifference in daily life and in relation to the Christian life.“
Christian Endeavor Meeting, Tiefengrund Mennonite Church (1934)
In choosing this theme for tonight the Program Committee obviously must have thought there is lukewarmness and indifference among us. I will attempt to speak to the issue.
Indifference is something that is in all of us, in some more, in others less. People who are inclined to be indifferent are usually passive in almost everything. But harmful indifference can develop in any kind of character through experiences in life which make one progressively more callous, uncaring and indifferent. One must be very careful to curb this in children even at an early age. Even small children are not indifferent to what happens around them; therefore, we must not neglect to answer their many and seemingly unimportant questions about this and that, even though it may be bothersome at the time. It is important to explain things clearly and on the child’s level of understanding. This is a part of training the child to be alert and observant. Now children of school age often hurt themselves by not applying themselves more diligently. Often one hears the words of regret later: „Oh, if only I had studied more diligently when I was in school.“
When it comes to young people, I believe they are seldom indifferent and apathetic. On the contrary, they usually take a firm stand on various issues. If this is not the case, then something is wrong with them, either they are physically or spiritually sick, or they live in abnormal circumstances. Can you imagine our sons working in the fields, caring for the animals, maintaining the machinery and equipment, and doing all this mechanically, like a robot, without any interest in what they are doing? The obvious result of such an attitude would be total ruin and bankruptcy: the fields would yield very little, the animals would not thrive, machines and equipment would deteriorate, etc.
Or let us assumer that someone is completely indifferent to their outward appearance, cares nothing about cleanliness or the condition of their clothes; don’t you think that this will affect their character? I am sure of it. Let a child, a teenager, or a young person be sloppy in personal appearance, and it will soon become part of the person’s character, yes, and it will even show in their eyes.
The danger for us farmers to become indifferent in our daily activities these days is especially great, because for years the farmers have not been rewarded financially for their hard labor. It is only natural that this influences our attitude, paralyzes our enthusiasm and willpower, and threatens to make us apathetic. We think it is all of no use. But we dare not submit to those thoughts and that mood. To the contrary: even though progress seems hopeless now, prices are low, there is little or no reward for our effort, yet we must not give up! We must keep hope alive and trust in God. We must start each new day in that spirit. We must always believe that conditions will improve.
How very different that is in Russia. There it really does not make any difference anymore to be ambitious, because everyone is told what to do, the people have no choice. In all areas of life the rule is: „Do it, or else!“ The result is that eventually the people become completely indifferent. Nobody cares anymore. That large country, which before World War I exported more agricultural products than either the U.S.A. or Canada, can now not even feed its own people.
Another aspect of the results of indifference is the effect that this has on the development of character. One doesn’t care about the joys and sorrows of other people. That is shocking and should not be so. It is our duty to take part in all of life, including the lives of other people. Those who have experienced loneliness and rejection know what I am talking about; especially when nobody seems to care at a time when we are in serious trouble.
This applies in the first place to the family. There is no place for indifference in the intimacy of the family circle. Neither the family as a whole, nor the individual members of a family will prosper, be well-adjusted, or happy if every member goes his and her own way without caring what happens to the others. But it is a beautiful sight when siblings are united in bonds of sincere and intimate love. In this respect my father and his three sisters were a model and ideal example for me. I remember, for example that whenever there was a public gathering, like a birthday or a wedding, the four siblings would always find time, even if only for half an hour, to meet alone either in the garden or in a corner of a room, for sharing and intimate conversation. Everybody knew that this had to be. There certainly was no indifference there, but on the contrary, there was love, caring, listening, and sharing. And that is as it should be.
And just as there must be no indifference in the family, so also, there must be no indifference in the larger family, the church. But is it not true that sometimes people think: that’s no concern of mine, or, we have the ministers to take care of that. And yet at the same time when there are problems in the congregation, as there always will be, then these same people are critical and quick with their judgments. Where is love? We must also beware of being indifferent in our church life. We ought to take part in the worship service, Christian Endeavor, church meetings, conferences, etc. This would also be encouraging to our ministers.
In conclusion, let each one of us ask himself and herself the very personal question: what will happen if I am indifferent to my salvation? The words from Revelation 3:15 probably come to all of our minds: „Would that you were cold or hot! But because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you of my mouth.

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