“For you were called to freedom, brother. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another,” Galatians 5:13.
Next week we celebrate July 4th. We recognize our freedom as Americans, thankful we have rights that other foreign citizens and countries don’t have. Did you know that women in Saudi Arabia just won the right to drive?
On a smaller scale, have you ever considered that we might have too much freedom? I’m not talking about legal freedoms. What about choosing which customs, manners, and common courtesy we practice?
Maybe that’s what the Bible verse means–when given certain free choices or situations where we can decide our own actions, do we give into the temptation of the flesh, and serve ourselves, or choose to love and serve others?
Let me get real specific, here. We’re free to bring our cell phones to church…but are we free to answer them during service and have an audible conversation? No, Jodi, that’s just crazy! However, I’ve seen this happen. It didn’t appear to be an emergency call, the individual didn’t excuse himself, and the conversation continued longer than, “bye, call you back.” Others around him grew visibly distracted and uneasy. Eventually, someone “shushed” him, but why was this opportunity for the flesh more tempting than listening to the word of God? Or becoming a stumbling block for others? And, honestly, who among us really wants to be shushing another fellow Christian in church? Or even give them the side eye?
I’m sure we’ve all had that embarrassing moment when our phone “accidently” goes off in church….we have. And I’ve been guilty of sending a quick text before I forget something or looking up a Biblical point that’s fuzzy to me. Even our pastor encourages us to use our Bible apps during service. So I can hardly say it’s a “sin” to use your phone in church!
Another example—sometimes people choose to watch the service from the lobby. Some of them are visibly disabled or have other health issues, some may avoid crowds or are having a bad day, or simply need to attend to a fidgety baby or toddler who can’t go to the nursery. Clearly, the t.v. screens are there to include people in the lobby. During a yearlong health challenge, I was often a lobby sitter, due to a low immunity system. Yes, I could have watched the service online, but I didn’t. However, often it’s difficult to hear the service in the lobby, not because the volume’s not loud enough, but because of the loud, personal side conversations of others socializing together. I’m much more sensitive to the lobby sitters now and loving and serving them by respecting their Jesus time at church is important!
I’m not here to admonish anyone. Cell phones and side conversations are a distraction. But the “freedom” to distract others should not come at the expense of loving and serving others. Let freedom ring! Just not your cell phone.
2 thoughts on “Freedom to…Distract?”
Thanks Jodi for an eye opening message about being aware of others to make sure I am not a hindrance for them to know Jesus better. I never considered the reasons for those sitting in the lobby. Thanks for bringing awareness so we can love others more than we did yesterday.
Thank you, Diane. I’ve been as guilty as the next person. But being on the other side of things opened my eyes up. I used to sit near a group of ladies lined up in wheelchairs in the lobby. Even on days consumed with self-pity or anxiety about my health issues, I had to admire that they got themselves to church (or were brought), and made that effort to have their in-person Jesus time. I have to respect that, and it was an encouragement to me. Not saying wheelchairs aren’t welcome in church, but perhaps they feel more comfortable and content being lobby sitters.