Do you remember the New Testament story of Eutychus? It really used to bother me. I mean, here was a guy who had the privilege of hearing one of the greatest men who ever lived – the apostle Paul – and he fell asleep. He was sitting in this third story window sill because the pews were full, and he zoned out and fell to his death. (You can refresh the story in your mind in Acts 20.)
I’m not sure whether the problem lay with Paul who preached too long, or with Eutychus who mentally checked out, but he was not the last one to fall asleep in church. Some folks get so good at it they can do it with their eyes open.
Whatever the situation there in Troas, I’ve long held the conviction that to talk about the gospel in a way that is boring is an affront to God. I mean, to take the greatest news that ever rocked the universe and talk about it in a way that creates nothing greater than a ho-hum must astonish the angels.
You may remember HMS Richards, founder and long-time speaker of the Voice of Prophecy radio program. I once heard him tell the story of a preacher who fell asleep while he was preaching. Not the congregation; the preacher. They watched as he drowsily read a long passage of Scripture. As Richards told it, the man’s head kept getting lower and lower until he finally just laid it down on the pulpit and went to sleep. Probably not many conversions that day.
Our word enthusiasm comes from the term “in Theos,” or “in God.” When your part of the Christian community comes together to worship, nothing more important is going to happen on the planet than that. We’ll come away with new insights into the breadth of God’s love for us. We’ll begin to fathom the fact that the value of something is determined by the price someone is willing to pay for it. The population of eternity will change in the next 40 minutes. Someone prays and we find ourselves tiptoeing boldly into the throne room of the universe. God re-seen; His family re-made. Victories gained, families healed, addictions broken…that calls for a celebration, not a yawn.
Bored? Only if I allow myself to be. My plea becomes, “Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth You have for me, place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free…” The apostle Paul is not there, but God is. The Spirit-anointed excellence the worship leaders bring to their sacred task, the heart-hunger of those who come to worship, and the very presence of God combine to dispel the boredom of life and re-energize us to honor Him. And Eutychus is a classic example that even if you fall asleep in church there can be a resurrection.
By Don Jacobsen