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Consider One Another

Have you ever had occasion to really watch what goes on in a church service? I don't recommend you do it very often. Besides sleeping, on rare occasions some have snored and snorted! Not all sleepers are over 95 or on medications or had to work till 4 a.m. Saturday night. What some people do at church these days is truly amazing. The list includes whispering, passing notes, sending and receiving texts (and twittering and reading tweets). Jack-in-the-box-like people are up and down and back and forth to the bathrooms or water fountain or somewhere. Habitual late-comers interrupt and disturb the singing, praying, Lord's Supper, and sermon, not to mention people they have to either move or crawl over in the pew. Besides late-comers there are loud-speakers and a troop of foyer-guards and hall monitors who are doing, well, something (it's just hard to figure out exactly what). Babies cause quite a commotion and distraction sometimes. But babies who disturb worship are not half as disturbing as adults who act like babies! On one occasion I observed a man remove a shoe and hold it to his ear like a telephone even as I taught an adult Bible class. Who he was talking to I never figured out (maybe Agent 99?). The same man was observed in one church assembly clipping his TOE nails! During invitation songs some jostle and make ready to dash out the door at the final Amen (or even before), apparently oblivious to the fact they may discourage responses to the Gospel. Maybe the most extreme thing I've ever seen in a worship assembly was the time when someone had placed an alarm clock under the pulpit before I preached and set to go off in the middle of the sermon. And it did! If the perpetrator's design was to alarm me, it succeeded. But it also disturbed and showed a callous lack of consideration for many who were seeking to worship God that morning. Yep, it's true. Sometime a lot goes on in our worship assemblies besides worship.

Turns out inconsideration at church is not new. More than 150 years ago, Alexander Campbell wrote: "To be habitually late in attending appointments of the brethren is most indecorous and except in cases of sickness, to withdraw from any meeting before the final amen, is a violation of the most obvious rules of order. Next to those who permit barking and fighting dogs and screaming children to torment the audience, I know of none more obnoxious to censure than those disturbers of the peace, who are ever and anon on foot, going out and coming in, as if to arrest attention, or disturb the speaker and the audience. These, and they who whisper and mutter to their companions while one is addressing the audience, except on some paramount occasion, belong to the first class of transgressors of the plainest principles of good education and good order. . . .But we have witnessed many occasions, not only amongst brethren, which called for the sharpest rebukes which Christian love authorizes" (Millennial Harbinger quoted in Bulletin Digest).  The Holy Spirit sent this word to Christians long ago: "Let as consider one another" (Hebrews 10:24a). That admonition is sorely needed today. Even in worship assemblies. Even in our's.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ