Perhaps the most hurtful thing you can experience in a relationship is being ignored. Confrontational arguments and occasional verbal jabs cause damage, yes. But being treated like you don’t exist means there is no relationship. And, worse yet, there is no hope of repairing a broken relationship if either person decides to shut down.
A Look in the Mirror
We can be very offended when others ignore us. But before we start judging too harshly, we need to take a close look in the mirror by asking ourselves a probing question- how does God feel when I ignore him? Does he care? The answer is yes. He cares very much.
Notice his response to the lukewarm attitude of the church at Laodicea.
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.
Would that you were either cold or hot!
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out of my mouth.
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,
not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
They said they didn’t need God. Whether they spoke out loud or just thought it in their hearts, God knew. God knows very well what it feels like to be ignored. He knows when we have become smug and self-satisfied. And he warns us to correct the problem before it’s too late.
Stoke the Fire
One simple little word in the Psalms points us to the correct attitude. It is the word, “Oh” (sometimes spelled “O”). It is an exclamation, an address, a sign of excitement or desperation. It’s like waving and yelling, “Hey! Over here!” or groaning to yourself out loud. The Messiah cries to God, “O you, my help” in Psalm 22:19b. David repeats it again and again. And when the psalmists use this little word, they reveal to us the true nature of a right relationship with God.
“O LORD, be my helper!”
“Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in You.”
“Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!”
Psalm 14:7a; 53:6a
These short, direct cries for help demonstrate to us what true worship looks like. True worship is passionate. We need to be careful and recognize that true worship is much more than mere passion. We can stir up a frenzy of passion by means of all sorts of external manipulation. You can get your heart pumping with good entertainment or some stirring music, all without seeing God for who he truly is.
But passion stirred up by a fresh glimpse of the Almighty God is true worship. When we recognize our position of dependence on God our Creator, we will wear our voices out crying, “Hey! Over here!” because we desperately need his help.
Impossible to Ignore
Cerebral Christianity, or passive Christianity, or mediocre Christianity, or nominal Christianity, is not true Christianity, at least not for long. You can’t stay lukewarm forever. Why? Because God will not allow it. He will not ignore you or allow you to ignore him. If you, as a true child of God, have adopted a blasé attitude towards your heavenly Father, he will discipline you in love.
My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
God does this because he loves you. He knows your heart, and he lovingly allows testing circumstances in your life to draw you back to himself. He is jealous for your affections. If you have no concern for God, and face no discipline, you need to question whether you are even his child. God cannot and will not ignore his children or respond in kind to their childish ways.
A New Perspective
For the believer in Christ, properly fueled passion is an excellent indicator of the temperature of your spiritual life. It is the exact opposite of a lukewarm, distant relationship with God.
So the next time someone ignores you, let it be a reminder. Take a look in the mirror. Ask yourself, “Is this how I am treating God?” You can’t ignore God for long. Ask forgiveness for ignoring him if you have, and confide in him your hurt because he knows exactly how you feel. Every day millions upon millions of people ignore God. He gave up his Son, bleeding and dying, for them.
Yet God still stands ready to forgive. So with fresh passion, having experienced Almighty God’s forgiving grace, rise up. Love others. And know that, no matter how others may treat you, the Lord is with you. He will never ignore you.