Artificial respiration is well known to almost everyone in America. If heart failure is apparent, caused by drowning, electric shock, etc., artificial means are often used to restore normal life. In drowning, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is sometimes used. To stimulate a weak heart a pacemaker is often implanted. The use of an artificial kidney is a common practice In the large hospitals. These external means are used only when the body is unable to function from within.
In the church we have as Paul said, “many among you who are weak and sickly, and not a few asleep” (1 Cor. 11:30). To stimulate worship some are leaving the word of God and resorting to man-made procedures and devices. Some time ago I sat in an audience wherein the preacher talked about the Lord’s supper. It was at the 11:00 o’clock service. The crowd was large and apparently very reverent. The preacher ranted about formality, ritual and the routine of the service. He laughed about the “three songs and a prayer.” He mocked about the general procedure in taking the Lord’s supper. He suggested and implied that worship would be richer if only the manner procedure could be changed. He thought worship could be stimulated by artificial means. No true Christian believes that “three songs and a prayer” is the divine pattern but he also knows that changing the routine has nothing to do with his true devotion.
For over 54 years I have been taking the Lord’s supper. I have met with brethren in school houses, homes, under tents, meetinghouses and have partaken of the supper almost 3,000 times, having missed the supper only four times since I have been a Christian. It had never dawned on me until I heard this preacher that I might only be engaging in a ritual. I did not know until then that the order of the service was what made the hour sacred. My mind went back over the nearly three-thousand times I had taken the.. Lord’s supper and to save my life I could not remember a time the order of the hour had anything at all to do with my worship. I asked myself, “Do I need an artificial stimulant for true worship?” Once a year, for twenty years, I have visited the graves of my beloved parents. I need no artificial stimulant to stir memories at their graves. It makes no difference from which direction I approach their graves nor through which gate I enter the cemetery. All of that is incidental to my visit to the graves of my parents. Now all of a sudden I am told by this preacher that if I approach the Lord’s supper through the same gate I cannot properly remember my Lord. I thought then and still think this preacher had lost his divine sense of direction and needed a pacemaker to keep his religious heart beating. The denominational world has for a long time depended on artificial means to stimulate worship. The preacher must turn his collar around, wear a robe and use a choir as a stimulant. A youth director of programs for young people recently proposed that the college age group gather around the baptistery and sing during the baptismal service and teach the older members how to worship. The denominations use dark rooms, candle lights, quartet, solos, testify, shout, burn incense and play the organ. The organ plays while the preacher reads the Bible. The organ plays while they pray. The organ plays while they baptize and during the Lord’s supper. The organ plays during the invitation song and the benediction. The denominations must have an artificial stimulant for all they do.
There are many in our world who depend on marijuana, LSD, speed, alcohol, etc., because they have no inward strength. The strong need no such stimulant. Only the weak on the inside resort to the use of outside stimulants. We seem to have religious dope addicts in the church. They have no inward grace and must have a shot by artificial means. They are not happy to gather about the Lord’s table and worship in a quiet simple way. They cannot depend upon the love of God in their hearts and respect for the Son of God to turn their thoughts to Jesus Christ. They must be stimulated by external means. The denominational world could not save their weak faith by artificial means and neither can we. There is just one solution to the question of formality and that is to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly” (1 Col. 3:16). If the word of God dwells in us richly the order of worship will in no wise affect our devotion.