I have a very short attention span, and it appears to only get worse as I grow older. I need to be mentally stimulated and I go the extra mile each day in an attempt to be so. I read books and browse the Internet. I watch sports on television. I go out of my way to find a challenge at work. When all else fails, you might even catch me working on a crossword puzzle.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times as I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Since the dawn of the digital age, we have been bombarded daily with things that stimulate our mind. This is a good thing, but I can’t help my belief that it is also the cause of our chronic attention deficit disorders. Yes, I called it that because when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the matter - that's what it is.
The business training industry has undergone several changes and modified their agendas during the last few years and it is obvious that they ‘get it’. Attend any work-related seminar and you’ll be challenged not by mundane lectures, but by dynamic power-point presentations featuring incredible graphics keyed by memorable catch-phrases. They have to be that way in order to survive in the world of business-related seminars. Our schools and universities no longer attempt to teach the old English classics in literature, preferring instead to push post-modern authors and their works. I was shocked when my daughter informed me (with a puzzled look when I asked) Beowulf was not listed on her English Lit syllabus.
It is bad enough that we see this happening in our schools and universities, but I have also noted the symptoms as they invade our churches. Sermons are boring and are quickly becoming passé. The grand old hymns of Fannie J. Crosby and Robert Lowry (among others) are swiftly being replaced with modern praise and worship music. A church is noted for its programs and adaptability to the schedules of its members, and a failure in these areas could spell the end for the church that dares to miss the mark.
Does your young adult Sunday school class have doughnuts and coffee before class? Are there various programs and functions available for the youth? Is your preacher long-winded and uninteresting? Does he use a power-point slide show? Does he use a modern translation of the Bible that is easier to understand? These are the avant-garde questions to use when shopping for a church to attend. I’ve even suggested to my pastor that we open up a concession stand in the back of the church where we can sell nachos and Cokes, et al, during the services - thereby earning money for the building fund as we make things more comfortable for the membership. ‘We’ll pack ‘em in!’ I promised him.
Is this what church is really all about? Is it what we have come to these days?
I like to call it second-rate faith. It is a faith based on emotion and feelings, with no substance and no desire for growth. What can the church do for me and my family with as little or no return on my part as possible? Better said, what can God do for me with as little or no return on my part as possible?
In John 2, Jesus had performed many miracles in Jerusalem and was returning to Galilee following the Passover: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”
Many believed in Him, but Jesus did not believe in them. Think about it. Why would Jesus do this? After all, we are told that they (the many) believed in Him. If you read the verses again and pay close attention, maybe you'll catch it – they believed in Him due to the hoopla surrounding His wonderful miracles. It was the excitement and emotion of the moment that thrilled their hearts and minds, but it didn’t touch their hearts. He knew when He left or no longer provided miracles for them; they would soon get over it all and go about their lives as before. Jesus wants something deeper from us than that. He wants our lives to be changed as well as our hearts.
It is something worth remembering when we attend worship services at our church each Sunday. We should ask ourselves why we are there, and specifically what our motive for being there is. If we are seeking a deeper faith and a closer relationship with Christ, then we are there for the right reasons. But if it is the doughnuts and camaraderie, the rocked-out versions of old hymns, or those delicious nachos from the concession stand – we need to re-examine our belief and commitment to Him, and in so doing earnestly seek His commitment to us.