“I don’t believe a man is in a fit state to hear a sermon whose mind is full of such trash as the Sunday newspaper is filled with. Men break the Sabbath and wonder why it is they have not spiritual power.”
-Dwight Moody, “Men of the Bible”
You might be thinking, “Which planet did this guy come from?” Hang in there with me for a moment and let us focus on the key point. Distracting thoughts will distract us from focusing on the message that God wants us to hear out of the sermon. And distracting thoughts can come from many things and activities.
“But, oh come on, we live in digital age. I have not bought the Sunday newspaper for ages.”
But digital age comes with its own digital distractions.
Every week, I observe men and women, both young and old, fiddle with their mobile phones at church during the service. At first I thought, ah, of course, they now look up the Bible verses on their phones. They no longer bring their printed Bibles. But then I saw them fiddling with their phones outside of the Bible reading time—during the worship songs and during the sermon too. And some of them sat or stood close to me, so I could make out what they were looking at, either their messaging app or social media app.
Last I checked, God has not published his phone number or mobile app user id, so it is safe to bet these people were chatting with their friends or families, or checking out their social media feed.
Is someone dying, that they would do that rather than worshiping God or listening to the sermon at that very moment? I doubt it. They did not look distraught in the slightest bit. So they are doing it out of intent. But why would they choose to do that rather than worshiping God or listening to the sermon? If the service is not that important, then why bother going? If they want to socialise with their friends or families, then they are free to go be with them. If they want to worship God and hear his Word, then why can’t they put away the mobile phone and turn it to silent mode?
“Okay, point taken, but what does this have anything to do with spiritual power?”
Our mobile phone batteries need to be recharged regularly. And I am sure you have been in a situation where you unplug the charger before the battery is fully charged, whether knowingly or otherwise. Then the battery power does not last as long as it should be. Likewise our spiritual power. It runs out of juice and needs a full recharge from God. When we cut God short of the attention he deserves, we are not getting a full recharge from our worship experience nor the sermon.
Observing the Sabbath is more than just abstaining from work. It is about giving God what is due to him and getting filled by him, spiritually. We need to put God at the centre of it all.
“I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus”
–Matt Redman, “The Heart of Worship”