It’s no secret that I’m a tech nerd. I get a contact high when I play with new gadgets. I get unreasonably excited when Apple announces a new product (iWatch? Don’t mind if I do). I upgrade to new operating systems too soon, which inevitably creates glitches on my computer. I probably Tweet too much and spend too much time browsing on Facebook (why do I care what Disney Prince you are?). In the words of Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, “I love technology.”
In fact, I love technology so much that I take my smartphone to church, because it has my Bible app on it.
But it also has Facebook, Twitter, email, text messages, and Angry Birds. There are times during worship or during the sermon when I will casually flip between the Bible app and Twitter. Why? Because I’m easily did you see that new movie with Matt Damon?
Sorry. I’m easily distracted. Because my phone is constantly alerting me to new, exciting, interesting things. A new email! Maybe I won something or a deported Iraqi prince wants to bestow his fortune upon me! A new text message! Maybe it’s a friend telling me that he has free U2 tickets! Must…look…at…my…phone.
Of course, when I’m staring at my screen I’m not paying attention to what is happening in the church service. Worship and text messaging don’t play well together. I’m either paying attention to the sermon or paying attention to the ESPN Sports Center headlines. It’s difficult to multitask and maintain a spirit of worship and wonder.
I recently read the following quote, which grabbed my attention:
When we are distracted from our covenant Lord and preoccupied with our own comforts and pleasures, something has gone seriously wrong with our worship.
John Frame, Worship In Spirit and Truth
Maybe I need to rethink just how serious Sunday mornings are. In Matthew 18:20 Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Wow. When I join fellow believers in the name of Jesus, Jesus himself is in our midst. The risen Christ, the one whom all of heaven adores, the conquering king, is present with us. Remember that semi-smarmy old hymn that says, “He walks with me, he talks with me”? When we gather as believers, Jesus Christ really does join us in a unique and powerful way, ready to bless, strengthen, and encourage us.
If I could literally see Christ on Sunday mornings – if he was standing on stage behind the preacher – would I be bouncing around from my Bible to Twitter to Facebook to ESPN to Instagram?
“Jesus, it’s so wonderful to be with you! Thank you for all you’ve…oh, hold on for a sec. I just posted this really funny photo of a dog wearing a sombrero and a lot of people are liking it. Okay, what was I saying? Right. You’re really worthy of…dang it! Sorry, my friend has been texting me all morning. He wants to know if I’m coming over to watch the game. Now, where was I?”
I don’t think so. All distraction would be banished in the manifest presence of the risen Christ. I would be riveted. I would be bowed low. I would be overflowing with joy. I would be giving Jesus loud, lavish, undistracted praise. I would be hyper-focused on the glory, beauty, and majesty of Jesus.
I may not be able to see Christ, but he is still fully present on Sunday mornings. He is still worthy of my loudest, most focused, most passionate praise.
I’m pointing these words squarely at myself. I’m not going to be the shriveled old guy who clings to his tattered KJV Bible and rants about the dangers of technology. But maybe, just maybe, I need to leave my smartphone home from church.