Friday, December 02, 2011
I attend what I consider to be one of the most inspiring, amazing, and diverse churches on the planet. We have over 12,000 members who truly love being in church each Sunday. Yet despite how large a congregation we have, you still experience an authentic sense of community. This is largely due to the genuine warmth you feel from the moment you walk in. Either through the greeters, the many volunteers who support the children’s and outreach programs or, those you are seated next to during service. I’m always energized and pumped up when I’m at church and amongst my fellow brethren.
One of the things I’ve come to admire and look forward to while in church is the “unfettered reverence” one should embody while in the house of God. For one or two hours on a Sunday morning, we come to worship in song and praise, are fed and taught the Word of God, and drink in the His presence and absolute awe. There’s a song I love that says “When I walked through the doors, I sensed His presence and I knew this was the place where love abounds. This is a temple and Jehovah God abides here. We are standing in His presence on holy ground.” How powerful these words are and how amazing to have the privilege to come weekly to God’s house and “be in His presence”!
Unfortunately, of late, I’ve found that mobile technology has infiltrated our church services and is encroaching on the time where we should be completely disconnected from the world so we can completely connect with God. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of mobile technology; however, I do believe there’s a time and place for these fascinating, yet, ubiquitous devices. I do not believe the sanctuary of God is one of them. I’m finding myself increasingly distracted by cell phones ringing, people texting and emailing, and iPads being substituted for bringing your bible to church. Perhaps the latter is a personal preference and waxes me as old school, and I could accept using your iPad for biblical references, however, not when you’re holding them up distracting those around you, and checking your email and texting on them. We’re not allowed to have our mobile devices on in movie theatres or at stage performances, yet we bring them to church? We’ll respect the viewing experience of those watching Johnny Depp in his latest flick but we fall short of offering the same deference to those who come to worship the almighty God?
I purposely leave my cell phone in the car. I relish having occasion where I’m not fielding calls, texts and emails, and can completely focus on being in God’s house. The ring tone I have for my mother is the theme for the Price is Right (she's a major coupon queen) and that’s the last thing I’d want to have going off in church should she call. Of course, it might be apropo during offering time.
With technology taking it’s highly, un-rightful place in our worship services, we fail to bring the rightful respect to the one, holy God, who is beyond deserving of our reverence and adoration. We need to stop and rethink why we get up, don our Sunday causal best, and head to our houses of worship. Yes, fellowship is part of the equation; however, our main focus is to honor and worship God. We need to remember whose house we’re in and respect the rules of the house. I love the verse in Lev. 19:30 "Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD". It’s hard to abide by this command when someone’s Bugs Bunny themed ring tone is going off or they’re taking a call. Yes, I’ve sat near folks who actually take a call in church. Last Sunday during the alter call; the cell phone of the gentleman sitting next went off. The man was clearly embarrassed, but it was a distraction that need not have happened. We are given 168 hours in a one week period. We can certainly give 1 hour to be technology free and focus on the teaching of God’s word and give Him his rightful reverence and honor.
I’d like to challenge my follow church goers to make a conscious effort of remembering who and why we come to worship. To have not only respect for God and His presence, but for those around you who have come to worship. I remember countless times when I was hurting beyond words and being in the very house of God, praising Him, was what got me through to another day. Our focus needs to be put wholly on Him and not our emails, texts and to do lists. Church is not a mobile technology hot spot, but rather “the spot” where we come humbly before Him with an aspect of admiration and feel His almighty presence. We need to remind ourselves that we are truly standing in His presence on holy ground.
Let’s all hit the off the button this coming Sunday and saturate ourselves in the meaning and application of showing reverence for God. I guarantee that by powering down, HE will power you up.