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A Mindless Meal

I think it was Vance Havner who said that many churches begin worship services at 10 o' clock sharp and end at 11 o' clock dull. How does that happen? The following story gives some insight. A preacher was talking with a woman who was a devoted member of the church where he preached. He expressed his appreciation for seeing her at the services each Sunday. "Yes," she explained, it is so refreshing after a long, hard week's work to come to church, sit down on soft, cushioned pews, and not have to think about anything." Can people be guilty of offering mindless worship to God? Can worship become a dull routine where people "go through the motions" in a shallow and superficial way with little mental and intellectual and emotional engagement and investment in the worship? Can our eyes and ears and minds and thoughts be distracted to the point we mouth the words of songs without thinking about what we sing? Can we hear a preacher's voice without really paying attention to the message from the Bible? Or bow our heads and listen to a prayer without really engaging our own hearts and minds? Do you ever see things going on during worship assemblies that make you wonder, "What are they thinking?"

The apostle Paul warns against mindless worship. In 1st Corinthians 11:17-34 he instructs Christians that proper observance of the Lord's Supper requires careful concentration of the mind on Christ. Read the passage and you will see that Paul is riled up about the way the Corinthians were behaving during the Lord's Supper. He warns them their coming together is "not for the better but for the worse" (verse 17). So bad is their approach to the Supper that he can truly say in verse 20, "it is not the Lord's Supper you eat" (New International Version). Verses 18-21 reveal that at the very Table that was designed to draw them closer to the Christ and to one another, there was division and selfishness. Twice Paul tells them, "I do not praise you" (verses 17a, 22b), and since Paul was an inspired man, we can understand his words to mean their approach to the Lord's Supper didn't please him or the Lord. Verses 27 and 29 bluntly warn that a thoughtless and irreverent approach to the Lord's Supper brings dire consequences — making one "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" as he "eats and drinks judgement to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." Paul's corrective for their pathetic performance at the Lord's Supper can be summed up in one word: "THINK!" That is, think about what and especially WHO the Lord's Supper is all about! It's not Sunday morning brunch. It is the Lord's Supper. Twice Paul says the Lord Jesus Himself instructs the church to eat the bread and drink the cup "in remembrance of Me." The Lord's Supper is not a mindless meal. A beautiful gospel song reminds us— "To keep the feast, Lord, we have met, and to remember Thee. Help each redeemed one to repeat: For me, He died for me" (2nd verse of That Dreadful Night by Joseph Hart, 1729). There's a lot to think about at the Lord's Supper. Will you think about it?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ