If your child didn’t get off the bus, would you worry where they were? If you went to the hospital to visit your loved one and they weren’t in their assigned room, would you worry where they were? If you had a business presentation and your partner was running late, would you worry where they were?
Of course you would! The woman inside of each of us would worry about where those individuals were and why they weren’t where we were expecting them to be.
Let me ask you a harder question. Do you worry about the empty seat next to you at church?
I’m not asking about the seat that is empty due to sickness, injury, or planned vacation. I’m asking about the seat that is empty due to spiritual sickness, lukewarm responses to the Gospel, or flat out thinking there’s something more important to do than sit in the House of the Lord. We are not speaking of the empty seat due to plans that backfired…we are talking about the empty seat due to someone not even planning to sit there in the first place!
This empty seat is unable to sing glory to God. The empty seat is unable to testify to answered prayers. The empty seat is unable to witness to the newcomer. The empty seat is unable to serve. The empty seat is unable to teach.
But the empty seat is not silent. No. It’s not silent. It tells a story of apathy. It tells a story of an Easter-Christmas Christian. It tells a story of lukewarm faith. This is a tragedy for the walk of the lukewarm Christian’s life.
Understand this…God does not want a lukewarm reception, nor does he want a lukewarm follower.
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” ~Revelation 3: 15-16 (ESV)
Both Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18 & 24 state that the church is the body of Christ, over which Jesus is the head. If you are a follower of Christ, then you know you should be attending church. This is where you connect with God, where you worship God, where you focus your prayers, and where you fellowship with other Christians. In short, it’s where you are an active part of the body.
As I write this, I want to be clear that I acknowledge that I am often the empty seat. It’s all too easy to sleep in on the only day of the week that is alarm clock free. It’s easy to let errands and chores take precedent. It’s easy to make excuses that I don’t want to sit by myself when my husband is out of town or working. It becomes a slippery slope of not going. One Sunday becomes two; two becomes three; three becomes a full month, and so on. Suddenly, it’s been months or years that the seat has been empty.
“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” ~Hebrews 2:1
I know I should be in church. I know that the Bible states church must be a priority in my scheduling. To not go is tragedy. It’s a tragedy that causes our Lord sorrow.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” ~James 4:17
The empty seat represents a lack of spiritual preparedness. It represents a willingness to allow the world to be more important that the Lord.
If women worry about an empty seat on a school bus, in a hospital room, or the boardroom, then we should certainly be concerned with the empty seat in church!
Ladies, this is our chance to exalt the Lord, to learn, to encourage one another…and frankly, these are the front row seats to Heaven that we are discussing! We are talking about seats for our children, our neighbors, our friends, our families…and we are absolutely failing them if we are not filling the seats of our churches!
Let’s start with assessing ourselves to ensure we aren’t the empty seat. Then let’s start to look at the empty seats around us to see if there are members we should encourage to come back to church so they can fill their seat. Finally, we need to seek the unbelievers, so that they can fill empty seats reserved for them.
Churches should be busting at the seams. There should be a distinct need for additional service times. It should be standing room only. There shouldn’t be even one empty seat…