This was the Pryor’s week to clean the church building so Heather and I set off to carry out our assigned task. Since vacuuming such a large building is pretty arduous and time consuming, I usually take that job. I got out the trusty Oreck XL and an extension cord and set about cleaning the carpets. There are always little lint balls and bits of dirt here and there and the vacuum seemed to be doing an okay job but not as well as I was expecting it to perform. Someone was kind enough to leave a candy wrapper for me to vacuum up so I sneered with an evil expression and went after the offending wrapper with an ardent fervor. The problem was, the mechanical dirt eating monster was not consuming the annoying candy wrapper. Accursed wrapper, you’ll not vanquish me! Back and forth, over and over now my comic book villain evil sneer is turning into a bonafide, real-life, aggravated preacher expression, narrowed eyes, clenched teeth and all. Finally I surrendered in humiliation, bent over, picked up the wrapper and threw it in the trash can.
Hmm, I wonder why the vacuum cleaner would not pick up the wrapper. I am the kind of guy that prides himself on being able to fix almost anything, or at least tear it up worse while trying to fix it. I began to wonder if maybe the belt that drove the beater bar had come off. The motor was running fine, but the beater bar and brush is connected to the motor with a belt. I turned on the vacuum, turned the machine over, and sure enough, the beater bar was not turning at all. Yes I felt pretty foolish. Fortunately we had another belt and 5 minutes later with a new belt installed the vacuum was working splendidly. And yes, I did take the wrapper out of the trash can and ran over it with the vacuum just to make sure it was working, and also to teach it never to mess with me again!
Now I’m sure you’re wondering what the lesson is in this story. Here it is: Sometimes our motor may be running, but we’re not accomplishing anything worth while. We may be making a lot of noise and moving around a lot, but when we step back to inspect the results, we don’t seem to have accomplished very much.
This is the time of year when folks make a renewed effort at reading their Bibles diligently every single day. I hope that all of us are reading and studying the Scriptures, but do you realize that just reading and not applying what is read is like running a motor without the belt attached. You’ve probably even had the frustrating experience of reading several pages and having your mind wander so that you get through several paragraphs or pages and remember not one thing of what you’ve read. The motor is running but the belt is not attached!
What I am talking about here is just going through the motions. I could have stood there for 2 hours with the vacuum motor running, pushing the machine back and forth over that wrapper and still not accomplish one worthwhile thing. Do I do the same thing in worship services? Am I just going through the motions of worship without my heart being engaged in the service? Am I making a lot of noise but not getting anything done for God?
One may sing loud and long in perfect pitch and tempo, but if the heart is not engaged in what he’s singing, then he is not worshiping God in Spirit and in truth. I can go through the motions of eating the bread, drinking the grape juice and putting money in the offering plate, but if my heart is not connected to the action then I might as well not be doing any of it. I am in the assembly to worship God, not see a show or make myself feel better by mindlessly going through motions of religious activity.
The purpose of the vacuum cleaner is to pick dirt up off the floor. Its job is not to sit and look pretty, take up space, make a lot of noise or be an exercise machine for one’s arms and shoulders. In order for it to do its job effectively, all parts need to be working together. Let’s make sure that we are serving God with all of our self, not just the parts that make noise.