THE 15th PEW
I’ve always been drawn to round tables. It seems that rectangular tables often become long and isolating. Have you ever sat toward the end of long table of 22 people in a restaurant? If you have you’ve probably experienced the isolation that parallels a person on an island. You just seem to be out of the loop.
Round tables, however, position everyone to interact with each other drawing in the timid and making each one feel part of the action.
Even in church you may have noticed how we position our chairs or pews all facing in one direction. Now it’s important to pay attention to the pastor, but church is about more than that. It’s about fellowship. Connecting with other members of the Body. Seeking to edify and build up one another. So often people walk into a church; sit down in the 15th pew; listen, and then leave with nigh a handshake or even a “how do you do.” This is hardly “Body of Christ living.”
The very fact that the Lord formed the church – a community of believers – reveals He did not create people to function alone.
Paul regularly urged people to “encourage one another and build each other up.” (I Thess. 5:11) He knew that the Christian life is at its richest when shared with others. To the believers in Thessaloniki he wrote, “We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess. 5:14-18)
We need to take time to notice and appreciate the people God puts in our lives. Even those we may consider weak. In fact, God puts great value on “weaker vessels” and calls us to give them some special attention. (Psalm 41:1; 82:3) “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” (I Cor. 12:21-23)
Corrie ten Boom wisely said, “Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
It's probably time we do some rearranging of chairs - in our churches - our homes - and in other places where people gather, to recognize our need for each other on this difficult journey of life. “No relationship can long endure, let alone thrive, if its members don’t consciously and continually make room in their hearts for one another.” (Bill McCartney)
Who can you draw into your circle today? What needy person can you make a meaningful and lasting connection with? There’s someone sitting in the 15th pew that needs to know you care.
“Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2)
Be blessed my friend
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love
Hebrews 10:19-25; Psalm 82:3; I Cor. 9:22; 12:12-31; John 15:14-15; Romans 14:1