3 Ways To Repent of Our Apathy Towards Evil

Last week America celebrated the 43rd anniversary of the Roe versus Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide.[1] In an official statement released by the White House, President Obama reinforced the prevailing sentiment that the American dream can and should be pursued at any cost, even if that cost is the lives of almost 58 million innocent unborn baby girls and baby boys made in God’s image. He declared, “In America, every single one of us deserves the rights, freedoms, and opportunities to fulfill our dreams.” The multiple layers of distortion and demonic deception in that sentence are astonishing. It sickens me. Yet, it was my own sin of apathy on Thursday, January 22nd, 2016 that grieves me more deeply. I didn’t think about the aborted that day. Not even once. It’s one thing for an unbeliever blinded by the god of this world to release that statement. It’s another thing for a believer to become so calloused to the cry of the oppressed that she would forget to pray for justice on their behalf. Honestly, I’ve heard so many voices surrounding the issue of abortion that it (unconsciously) became white noise to me, slowly lulling my conscience to sleep.

Awakening My Deadened Conscience

This past Sunday as I gathered with my church family, through the preaching of God’s Word, my conscience was awakened to the cries of the oppressed. The Spirit jarred me as I felt the weight of the 58 million abortions since Roe v. Wade ruling. It was like “I knew,” but I didn’t really know.

In his sermon on Psalm 69, pastor Geoff Chang preached on the imprecatory prayer (vv. 22-28). He helped the congregation think well on these difficult prayers laced throughout the Psalms. He also challenged us to appropriately pray imprecatory prayers in light of the rampant injustice in our country. Geoff boldly proclaimed God’s Word in a way that I felt compelled to share. The following section is taken directly from his manuscript and published with permission.[2]

My Pastor’s Exposition of Psalm 69:22-28

The psalmist’s prayer for help takes a turn here, praying not only for salvation, but for the judgment of his enemies. Here we see images piled up again, giving us a glimpse of what God’s judgment is like. Where everything good in life is taken away and it’s replaced only with God’s burning wrath, as punishment for their evil. It ends with this dreadful prayer: “May they be blotted out of the book of life, and not be listed with the righteous.” This is a prayer for an ultimate judgment, an ultimate death, even hell.

In our modern 21st century sensibilities, this is hard for us to grasp. Should we pray like this? Should Christians pray for God to judge and destroy our enemies? How are we to make sense of this?

  1. Notice that the psalmist prays to God to accomplish his justice, but the psalmist never takes justice into his own hands. There is nothing here in the prayer that would justify violence in the name of God.
  2. Notice that the psalmist is ultimately not out for personal vengeance, but his zeal is for God’s house and for God’s glory. They hate him because they hate God. And so this prayer for judgment is not about personal revenge. Rather it’s a prayer that God’s justice and glory would be upheld and evil would be defeated.
  3. Could it be the reason why a passage like this seems so strange to us is simply because we’re just not that passionate about righteousness and truth and justice? We care about ourselves a lot. But we actually care very little for God and His holiness…This past week was the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And the recorded number of legal abortions since that decision: 57,762,169.

That’s 57,762,169 of innocent baby boys and girls made in the image of God put to death for the demonic idols of sex and career and convenience, not in some barbaric land, but right here in our country.

At what point is your conscience so grieved by the enormity of that evil that you would say it’s okay to pray an imprecatory prayer against all those who work so hard to continue this holocaust, to deceive the minds and hearts of hurting women, and to continue profiting from it? Are 57 million deaths enough? 

Could it be that God’s conscience is a bit more sensitive to evil than ours?

Jim Hamilton in his commentary on Revelation writes this:

If you have ever wondered whether you should pray the imprecatory prayers of the Psalms, let me encourage you to look again at the way the martyrs pray for God to “avenge” their blood in Revelation 6. You bet you should pray those imprecatory prayers. Pray that God would either save His enemies, those who oppose the gospel and the people of God, that He would bring them to repentance, or if He is not going to do that, that He would thwart all their efforts to keep people from worshiping God by faith in Christ. Pray that God would either save those who destroy families and hurt little children or thwart all their efforts and keep them from doing further harm. Those prayers will be heard. Pray that God would either redeem people who are right now identifying with the seed of the serpent, or if he is not going to redeem them, that he would crush them and all their evil designs. God will answer those prayers.

Friends, this imprecatory prayer of judgment is not some embarrassing part of Scripture for us to hide away. No, rather, this is the only appropriate response to evil coming from a conscience that is properly attuned to God’s holiness.

Repenting of My Own Apathy 

On Sunday I repented of my apathetic, cold heart. I cried over the fact that I haven’t cried over the oppressed in a long time. I was reminded that we live in a broken world—unborn babies are murdered by their parents, refugees suffer and die at the hands of unjust governments, little girls are raped by their daddies, and innocent lives are taken in acts of terrorism. Evil is real and it necessitates a response from believers. 

There are a variety of responses and measures that need to be taken by God’s people in the face of evil. In the way of personal repentance, I would like to share the convictions I had stemming from Sunday’s sermon:

1. We must be angry

Christians, of all people, should be the most sensitive to evil because it is a direct affront to our God’s righteousness, justice, and holiness. When God’s image-bearers are oppressed by evildoers, it’s ultimately an attack on him and his character. The lackadaisical attitude towards evil that often characterizes the Christian is out of place and unacceptable. We must never allow ourselves to grow apathetic towards the plight of the oppressed. This begs the question, how sensitive is your conscience to evil? How quick are you to become outraged at the unjust practices and moral laxity of our culture? When was the last time you wept over the oppressed?

2. We must pray for justice

The atrocities committed by those who oppose God and his kingdom of light drive us to the just King of the universe. Pray that God would attune your conscience to his holiness and you would take up the cause of the helpless. Cry out to God and ask him to bring justice to the oppressed and to deal with the oppressor. Pray that the wicked would turn towards God in repentance and enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:6-9 or, if they don’t, that they would be judged and suffer punishment at the great supper of God in Revelation 19:17-21. Appropriately pray imprecatory prayers against those whose hearts are bent on crushing the vulnerable in rebellion towards God.

3. Pastors must preach God’s Word boldly

Man of God, don’t apologize for or be embarrassed by God’s Word. Eternal judgment is not the great evil of Scripture that you need to dance around. Hell is the final answer to all evil and injustice. In a culture filling our minds with unbiblical worldviews, your congregation needs to be confronted with God’s truth, even the reality of final judgment. One day God will right all wrongs and judge all injustices and this is good news for God’s people. If you’ve been silent on issues that Scripture speak to, repent of your fear or apathy and boldly proclaim God’s Word. I needed to hear a hard word from my pastor this week and I praise God for how that word led me to repentance.

[1] This article is not intended to heap additional hurt upon hurting women. My heart hurts with them and I’ve cried alongside many women who are broken over their choices. In this particular article I’m speaking to the greater issues of injustice against the oppressed in our country, not the restoration that God can bring to women who have had abortions.
[2] This is one portion of a full gospel-centered exposition of Psalm 69. Listen to the entire sermon “Praise the Lord…In Suffering (Psalm 69).” I inserted italics font in specific places where I experienced exceptional conviction. Also, the original manuscript was lightly edited to take it from spoken to written form.

Whitney Woollard is passionate about equipping others to read and study God’s Word well resulting maturing affection for Christ and his glorious gospel message. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute and a Masters of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary. Whitney and her husband Neal currently live in Portland, OR where they call Hinson Baptist Church home. Visit her writing homepage whitneywoollard.com.

Geoff Chang was born in Brazil, but grew up in the great state of Texas. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, TX and his post-graduate work at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He currently serves as associate pastor at Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, OR, where he lives with his wife Stephanie and their young children.