|Vol. 14 No. 1 January 2012||
While endeavoring to acquaint Churches of Christ with our mission efforts, Louis and I visit one or two different congregations each Lord’s Day. Thus, we have opportunities to see firsthand how the Lord’s church worships throughout this country and abroad. One of the things I have noticed is the lack of interest in worship among some of those in attendance.
The old adage “actions speak louder than words” certainly is evident during our worship to God. When we pass notes, send text messages, talk, fail to sing and habitually sleep during the assembly, we portray an attitude of disinterest in worshipping our Lord. This behavior exhibits “going through the motions,” rather than a desire to worship our Heavenly Father.
John 4:24 states, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The word worship means “to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore)” (Strong’s). When we properly worship God, we show reverence, respect and adoration to our Creator! The word “spirit” means “mental disposition” (Strong’s). We may worship in truth, but if our attitude is not correct, our worship is unacceptable to God. What are our actions during worship showing? Are they showing an attitude of indifference, I really do not want to be here, I am bored, or can those who observe us see we that we are worshipping God “in spirit and in truth”?
It is disturbing to watch adults exhibit such a lack of interest in worshipping our Lord. However, the children’s behavior is more unsettling than the adult actions. As the mother of three children, the worship service was often a stressful time when the children were young and energetic. Just trying to keep them quiet and not disturbing others was a challenge. However, at some time in the life of a young child, parents need to be less concerned with the quietness of the child only and more concerned about the child learning to worship God properly during the assembly. Listed below are a few suggestions for teaching our children to worship God.
Yes, young children need quiet toys, books or paper and pencil to keep them quiet during the assembly. However, these items should be used only during the aspects of worship in which the child cannot actively participate. We often satisfy ourselves that as long as children are quiet and not disturbing others all is well. This is comforting, but when will the child learn to worship God? Perhaps one of the reasons adults are inattentive during worship is that they have not learned how to nor do they understand the importance of worship.
We must worship God “in spirit and in truth.” This can only be accomplished when we understand why and how God wants worshipped.
Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 2006.
The State of the Children
The conversation in my classroom one day went something like this.
Teacher: This is the chess set my dad used to teach me how to play chess. That is a chess set like you buy today…
Student 1: Is that the same Dad that is with your mom overseas right now? Your real Mom and Dad?
Teacher: Yes, my parents. They have been married for 38 years.
Student 1: (Facial expression shows amazement/disbelief)
Student 2: They didn’t get a divorce? I thought you were supposed to get divorced after a couple of years.
Yes, both of these students were completely serious. None of the other students indicated they disagreed with the statements made by the first two. Do you understand what happened? Six students, ages 12-13, find it uncommon for a couple to be married 38 years and believe marriages are supposed to end in divorce on a regular basis!
Why is this such a big deal? Consider the following ideas.
First, divorce and remarriage is so common in the United States that many do not realize God’s plan. In Genesis 2:24, God instituted marriage with these words, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” When Jesus taught during His earthly ministry, He repeated this statement to the Pharisees when they questioned Him about divorce. Matthew 19:1-9 records this encounter and includes further information on God’s plan. Verse 9 states, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” God stipulates sexual immorality as the only reason for divorce and remarriage. The one who divorces and remarries for any reason other than sexual immorality, the one who committed the sexual immorality and the one who may marry the one guilty of sexual immorality are all guilty of adultery. In Matthew 19, the example is given of a man divorcing his wife; however, Mark 10:1-12 shows that divorce is not God’s plan no matter who begins the process. As the children in the local congregation can tell you, “God’s plan for marriage is one man, for one woman, for life!”
Second, if Christian parents do not instill in their children God’s view on marriage and other moral issues, the world will instill other values in them. Gone are the days when television shows like Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons and Leave It to Beaver flowed over the airwaves. These shows displayed families who worked together, worked through problems, and generally worked at becoming good, moral people. Many of the shows on today’s television stations depict single parent homes, children and adults who manipulate to get what they want, and a general lack of moral behavior. Hollywood stars and sports heroes often make headlines with multiple marriages or live-in relationships, immoral and illegal behavior. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, the Israelites received instruction to teach their children about God at every opportunity. Luke 2:52 shows that the boy Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Mary and Joseph carried out the commands of Deuteronomy 6. The mother and grandmother of Timothy practiced this as well (2 Timothy 1:5). Today’s Christian parents must follow the examples of Mary, Joseph, and Timothy’s mother and grandmother. Parents cannot rely on weekly attendance at Bible class and worship to fill a child’s mind with biblical teachings; that is only about four hours each week at best. If the average child sleeps about six hours each night, in the course of a week, the media and school have the opportunity to claim his mind the remaining 122 hours. Which do you think will make the biggest impact, 4 hours or 122 hours? Redeem as many of those 122 hours as you can for the Lord (Ephesians 5:16).
The state of the children in my class shows some pretty distorted views on marriage (and other topics), probably based on personal experience. Not all children that age have the same distorted views. However, if even one of a child’s friends has similar views, that child is at risk to accept those views if someone else does not lay a solid foundation of God’s truth (Matthew 7:24-28; Luke 6:48-49). The children of today will be the leaders of the church tomorrow. Like Paul instructed Timothy, faithful Christian parents need to teach children now so they can lead the church tomorrow and teach the generation to follow (2 Timothy 2:2). What is the state of your children? Do they have a solid foundation in God’s Word, know, love and obey God? If not, what are you going to do about it?