papercut press 1999-11-08 - Inattentiveness in Worship

1 Chronicles 16:29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him; worship the Lord in holy array.

Why do you go to church on Sunday? Do you go because you have always gone since youth, or since coming to faith in Christ? Do you go because you are a church member and that demands, at least, a once a week commitment? Do you go because most or many of your friends are there? Why do you go...?

Every reason for going to church listed above, I think, is a valid reason for going. But, in themselves, they are not "the" reason for going to church. I think there are two significant reasons for going to church on Sunday.

  1. We go to worship God. We go to church because of the great love with which the Father has loved us (1 John 4:8-21), and because of the great work of salvation that the Son has offered us (Acts 4:8-12), and because of the great ministry that the Spirit still lavishes upon us (John 16:8-11). Because of these things, we go to worship. We Go to give praise and adoration for what God has done for us, is still doing in us, and has promised to do in the future.
  2. We go to be encouraged, strengthened, and edified in our faith. We go to hear God's word preached and the sacraments administered, so that we might be reminded of the gospel, and of our need for Christ's righteousness. We go to learn from God's word; where the preacher, who has been set aside to study God's word that entire week, opens it up to us, tell us what it says and helps us apply it to our lives.

This is why we go to church on Sunday and every other reason we go to church on Sunday is less important than these reasons. The church service is to remind us of our need for Christ and to give us a chance to worship in response.

I have noticed something in my church that is very sad: Inattentiveness in worship. I have noticed that people in worship often space out when God's word is preached. I have noticed that conversations between church members, even leaders, continue to persist during the time for singing and worship. It is as if these people didn't have email or a phone or a car to do their visiting and talking during the other 167 hours of the week. It is as if members of families need to be forced to sit next to each other, for a solid hour, in order to communicate verbally.

To be inattentive in worship is sin. It is sin because it dishonors God. It dishonors a Father who has loved, a Son who has died, and a Spirit who intercedes, on our behalf. There is almost no conversation or circumstance that should take precedence over or supersede the worship of God in the church service. It is also sin because it hinders others from worshipping. How dare someone hinder another from worshipping God. To say this is something other than sin is to fail to understand the gravity of such a practice.

I say these things to myself also. I admit that I have been the party guilty of this sin from time to time and I resolve that I will seek to give glory to God and worship Him attentively, with my whole heart, and seek, by God's grace, to avoid being a distraction to others. Oh Lord, may I be the example to others in my worship and not the stumbling block. Would you join me in this?

"Thou must be an attentive hearer; he that is awake, but wanders with his eye or heart, what doth he but sleep with his eyes open?" -William Gurnall

Soli Deo Gloria,