Our program today is called YOU SAT IN MY PEW. As a Christian we have important rights and we have responsibilities. Our greatest right is assurance that we will spend eternity in Heaven. Another right is to be able to live a life in which we know that the Holy Spirit is with us at all times. While we continue to sin, we know that God will forgive those sins if we ask for forgiveness. In this life we will be persecuted by nonbelievers, but still have a model of righteousness (the Bible) that we can follow each day. We have the right to pray to God to ask for help, to praise God, to thank God and just to talk with our friend. We can go to a Christian church to worship with others and enjoy that time of worship through participation. We can enjoy the company of Christian friends. We know we are loved and our faith tells us how to love others by what we say, think and do each day.
With such great rights with our Christian faith, what are the responsibilities? The New Testament explains these to us. We are told to love one another (John 13:34). We are told to obey God’s Commandments. We are told to share our faith with one another and to live a life that demonstrates that we wish to live in a manner as close as we can to what Jesus Christ modeled for us and told to us. There are also some responsibilities given for what we should NOT do. We are told to avoid hatred, jealousy, bitterness, arrogance, deceitfulness and any other behavior that shows a lack of righteousness.
Among these rights and responsibilities there is no mention of a church pew. We are told to be joyful and praiseworthy but we are not told in the Bible as to where we should sit when we arrive for a church service. In early America people paid for their family pew in the church building and it was reserved for them. Servants and slaves might be able to sit in the balcony. More democratic practice came in the 19th century which meant all pews were opened to everyone. By habit today we do tend to sit in the same place or at least the same area every Sunday but it does not mean we have a right to a certain pew in the church. Precedent or tradition does not mean ownership. Christianity is open to every one and seats are not reserved except for handicapped or hard of hearing persons in some cases. We cannot say, “you are sitting in my pew” because we don’t have a pew. There are no reserved seat tickets in church.
In fact, it would be better to move around the sanctuary to meet and greet other people. It could be better to get a fresh perspective on the church service by sitting in a different area. Wouldn’t it be best to be happy that someone is there (where you sat last week) instead of not being in church? It would be best not to wait until one minute before the service to arrive and then find someone sitting in your favorite place. Most importantly, we need to remember why we came to church. This is a worship service. We came to worship. If we are upset about a pew, we are
not ready to worship. We did not come just to sit in that pew. The point of this is that we must have the proper attitude in order to worship when we come to church.
We can worship wherever we are. Worship is an opportunity, more than meeting an obligation. The church (the building, the pew, the service) belongs to God, not us or our family. Be joyful, be ready for worship. An attitude of worship requires that we stress our opportunities to joyfully worship which means we do (and sit) wherever we fit into the group of believers. We should enter thinking of our responsibilities to God, our thankfulness to God and not about what we are entitled to as a part of that church. How might you add to the appropriate focus in the next
worship service you attend?
These study questions are intended for use with God’s Plan for Service, Program #456. The primary purpose of the study questions is to help the listener/reader to more fully grasp the significance and implications of the topic. Recipients may send responses to God’s Plan for Service by email to [email protected] or mail to GPS, 1226 Knox Valley Drive, Brentwood, TN 37027.
1. Do you and those with you sit in the same place in church every Sunday?
Why is that? Might you fellowship with others by moving around some?
2. What are your responsibilities as a Christian?
3. What would you do if someone came to you before the church service started
and said “You are in my pew (seats)?
Kenneth Oosting, Ph D