A while back I read a news article that discussed a growing problem that churches are facing today. The problem: more and more congregants are unwilling to turn off or mute their cell phone when they enter into the worship sanctuary. The article stated that some congregations have had to endure distractions due to chimes, musical jingles, and perpetual chirps until such time that: a) it could be determined who owned the offending device, b) the owner could scramble to locate the device and turn it off, or c) the owner felt compelled to run out of the sanctuary to “answer-the-call”. And when have these unwanted sounds announced themselves? It has been during those “quiet” times – such as when the pastor is preaching, someone is praying, and yes even when a man and a woman are reciting their wedding vows. (Isn’t it sad that “Praise-The-Lord” and “Amen” is now being drowned out by unintelligible chimes, jingles, chirps and even vibrate noises?)
The article went on to state that some churches have [discreetly] installed “jamming devices” to impede those unwanted signals from reaching the cell phones and pagers during the worship service. And wouldn’t you know it – there are those who are crying “foul” – stating such things as, “this is an infringement on my [rights], “this is an impediment to public safety.” (What ever happened to the [rights] of the congregation to worship without these types of distractions?)
After reading this article, I was reminded that as I grew up in the church about the only “distractions” that congregations had to endure were the occasional child talking and/or a parent needing to tend to a crying/unruly child. (And now we must ask, “Who are today’s ‘children’ causing the disruptions?”)
In the Book of Nehemiah we read of the account where Nehemiah led the people in the reconstruction of the wall around Jerusalem, re-establishment of proper worship, and a call to obedience unto God and His Word.
In Nehemiah 8:5-10 we read,
“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
It should be noted here that the city of Jerusalem had formerly been laid to waste because the people had rejected worshipping God alone – having brought “idols” [images made with man’s hands] into the house of God, worshipping them as if they were a god.
Today we need to remind our congregations of the necessity of true worship – allowing the Word of God to penetrate our [hearts] – instead of allowing unintelligible signals to penetrate our [ears]. Finally, consider what our worship services would be like if we held the Word of God as close to our hearts as we do our cell phones to our ears – for if we did, we wouldn’t miss the most important call of all; that being, the Lord’s call unto salvation and/or His call unto service. May our hearts and our ears listen for the intelligible Words of the Lord; for, therein you will truly hear the message God intended for you to hear.