Recently, one of the men who was serving communion approached me after the Sunday morning service. He told me he was distressed because while communion was being served, he noticed several of our members were “playing” on their phones or tablets.
Please understand, he was very deliberate in his choice of words. He also was in a position where he could see what was on the screens of the folks in question...it was NOT a Bible App they were looking at. It was text messages, games, etc.
And it wasn’t just the one week, either. He had seen the same people doing the same thing at the same time for several weeks. And it’s also not just the kids and teens…adults were doing this too. He said with some people it seemed to be a pattern.
He then asked me if I would preach a sermon on how we should behave during the worship service. My response was that, unfortunately, the same people who were playing during communion also play during the sermon, so they would not hear anyway.
I am not anti-technology, but I am pro-God. If we cannot make it through an entire worship service without checking our e-mail, text messages, or how an online game we are playing is progressing…spiritually we may be dying.
I found this picture online a few weeks ago. A couple of the indicators mentioned are appropriate to this discussion.
In particular, I want to call your attention to the one at the top: “The story of the cross no longer moves you.” Please think about that for a moment.
It is distracting when people are playing on their phones during the sermon and other times during the worship assembly (both to those around them and to the one leading). And some would even say it is disrespectful to the ones who are leading us in worship.
But even worse is that it is disrespectful to God, who sacrificed so much for us in sending Jesus to die on the cross. And to do this during the time set aside to remember the death, burial and resurrection comes painfully close to, in the words of the author of Hebrews, “…crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace” (Hebrews 6:6).
Consider also what Paul says about this time in the worship service in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29:
"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself."
When we (anyone, male or female) allow anything (electronic device or not) to take our focus off of our relationship with Jesus and what He did for us on Calvary during this time, we “eat and drink judgment on (ourselves).” And, what’s worse, we put others who we distract in the same situation.
My purpose has not been to get anyone mad or upset (though I probably have). Others, besides this particular brother, have told me in the past how distracting it is when people are playing games on their phones, etc. during the service (again: NOT Bible apps, games).
My purpose is to gently remind us that God has done, and is doing, and will do so much for us. My purpose is to encourage us to “wake up” before it is too late. My purpose is to warn us, lest we eat and drink judgment on ourselves. My purpose is to prevent us from dying spiritually.
Is it too much for us to turn our phones and other devices off (not just “silent”) for a little while so we can put our total focus on Him for about an hour or two? After all, 2000 years ago when He came, YOU were HIS total focus...for about six hours one day as He hung on the cross!