This past Wednesday night, I was asked to speak as part of the Summer Series at the Piedmont Road church of Christ. In addition to the 40-minute lesson/class that I was asked to teach, I was also asked to present a “5-minute devotional” before Bible classes began. I’ve done dozens of these in the past, and so I fully understood the concept, but then I began to think about it more…
Have you ever heard of a “1-month contract” from a phone/internet company?
What about a “2-day diet” or a “30-second workout?”
This is when I began to really think about the concept of a “5-minute devotional.” Isn’t this an odd title? Isn’t it strange that a word like “devotional,” which comes from the word “devoted,” which typically is associated with longer periods of time, has come to describe 5-15 minutes of our time?
The word, as it is found in Acts 2:42 means, “to adhere to one; to be steadfastly attentive unto; to give unremitting care to a thing; to continue all the time in a place; to persevere and not to faint; to be in constant readiness for one; wait on constantly” – Thayer’s Lexicon
What do you think Jesus would think about some of our “terms” within the Church? If Jesus was here, and we asked Him to do a “5-minute devotional”, what do you think He would think, say, or do? Would He go longer than 5 minutes, simply to test our “devotion?”
I’m not suggesting that there is anything inherently “wrong” with a 5-minute devotional (5 minutes is certainly better than 0 minutes), but I wonder sometimes if this mentality isn’t taking hold in more subtle ways within the Lord’s Church. Think about some of our other “terms” and “classifications:”
Service “projects.” What does this imply? It could come to mean (to someone who wasn’t approaching it properly) that our “service,” as Christians, has a beginning and an end. Is this true? Is this how a “slave,” “servant,” or a “bondservant” is supposed to view his/her service towards God?
What about an Outreach “program?” What are we saying with this? Although programs are fine, and accomplish a lot of good, could this develop the wrong mentality in the mind of an immature Christian regarding the constant need to “reach out?”
Evangelism “campaigns” and Mission “trips.” What is the message being sent here? Please don’t misunderstand me; I love these events, and I think that they accomplish a lot of good for the Lord. I’m simply asking some questions for us to think about.
When I read the Bible, here are some of the things I see:
- All-night prayer – Lk. 6:12
- Lifelong service – Mt. 25:14-30; Eph. 6:6 (“bondservants”)
- Daily devotion & fellowship – Acts 2:41-47
- Disciples of Christ – a word that is found over 250 times in the NT to describe God’s people as pupils, students and learners of Christ. These weren’t “attenders of services;” these were “devoted followers” who – according to one scholar – were “covered in the dust of their Rabbi’s feet” by the end of any given day.
Parents, grandparents, adults: as we live out our faith on a daily basis, we need to make sure that we are modeling GOD’S plan for these very important concepts instead of substituting a manmade, custom-fitted, watered-down, compartmentalized, convenience-based plan that WE have come up with.
If our children don’t SEE God’s plan in action, they will most certainly see THROUGH our attempts to put these things into a “box.”
I encourage you, through and by the Word of God, to live a life of devotion, service, prayer, fellowship, and evangelism. I commend you if you are already doing so, and I ask your prayers for me and my family as we attempt to do the same.
May God bless you!