Alone in a Crowd
Elders across the country are seeing an increase in the number of Christians who are dealing with depression/anxiety and the very negative effect on the spiritual lives of their members. There is a dipropionate increase in the number of young people whose lives are interrupted by anxiety/depression to the point that their ability to worship and serve God becomes difficult for them. At this point parent and elders are faced with a more difficult challenge to prevent spiritual malnutrition.
There is a growing body of research in the mental health world that suggests the tremendous rise in the problem is related to the huge rise in screen time, and has the greatest effect on teens 14-17 years old whose screen time exceeds 1 hour per day. [preventive medicine report]
The report showed that the more hours of screen time were associated with less friendships, more distractibility, less emotional stability, less ability to complete tasks, and greater conflicts between parents and teens. Screen time includes cell phones, computers, and TV because they all can produce a similar result: alone in a crowd. The report also suggests that heavy dependence on an electronic device can lessen one’s self-control, hinder developing proper coping skills to deal with the problems of life.
None of this research deals with the most serious problem; spiritual wellbeing. This is a 21st century problem and not specifically addressed in the scriptures, however the principles of Christian behavior can not be excused, overlooked or ignored. Elders and parents will be called out on the day of judgement for violation of His will, regardless of the justifications made for failing to fully follow his will.
The instructions on family relations In Eph. 6:1-4 places a great responsibility on both parents and children. Deut. 6:4-9
Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
Elders will be called on to give an account for EVERY soul in their charge, that members have not strayed or become spiritually malnourished. Look at the teaching of Jesus in Luke 15 concerning the LOST things. The one who went astray, search until you find them and bring them back, because of the results:
Lu 15:10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (NAS95)
Sometimes we can forsake the assembly while sitting in the pews, IF our minds and hearts are not focused on God and His love for us. Just being present is only the beginning of our spiritual service,
Mt 15:8 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
We can be sitting in the pew without “standing on the promises”. Without committing our hearts to God, we will be what Jesus called them, hypocrites, just playing church, not real. We can come up with all kind of excuses to skip bible studies and worship services that may satisfy men but what about giving account before God [Rom 14:12]. God might say “you look sickly” and I might say “I have missed a lot of spiritual meals because________________. [fill in the blank] Or I never miss the services, but I have trouble focusing on the preaching, so I leave hungry. Think how silly that sounds!
These thoughts are written to parents, elders and every christian to stir you up by way of remembrance [2 Pet. 1:13]. We must remove every weight [encumbrance] that so easily entangles us [Heb. 12:1] so we can run the race before us, with our eyes FIXED on Jesus.