Holding On To My Seat

It was a most inconvenient time for the air-conditioning to fail. The evening was warm and without being able to open the windows, Bible class was going to be a hot hour. The only help available was found in three box fans placed on the pulpit area in the front facing the audience. They worked hard to circulate the air and bring some level of cool to those gathered.

If you sat on the first four or five rows, you could enjoy the slight breeze created by the fans. Anyone sitting beyond that point would have to strain to even know the fans were working. Now here is the punch line: as hot as it was and uncomfortable for those having to endure the hour without the benefit of air-conditioned cooling, nobody moved out of their seats. Hand fans were working tirelessly and sweat was pouring down the brows of many but "leave my seat" was not in the plans.

The best place to sit in the house was in the first few rows and it was most pleasant. The irony was found in how hard it is to give up something we are accustomed too. Regardless of how hot it may be, we hold on to our seats. There should be a few lessons in this story.

Many people are not interested in the truth as they are satisfied with where they are. A better covenant is offered from a better sacrifice but they are content to remain as they are. They stay because it is familiar or part of their family for generations. "If this religion was good enough for mom and dad, it is good enough for me," they say. The idea of satisfied religion keeps many people from changing their lives and finding the truth.

Our faith is not based upon what the religion of our parents or grandparents believed. "Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) The system of belief we follow is the Lord's will and not the pattern of our family. Remaining in the same seat because "this is my seat," will bring little consolation in the day of judgment when we find that it mattered more what Jesus said than our parents.

A second lesson learned is the danger of traditions. A tradition is an established pattern of thought or action. Some traditions are based upon God 's will. Paul used this word in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 when he said, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." Paul also used this word to describe the teaching that is not in harmony with Christ - "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Colossians 2:8) Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Jews for their traditions. (Matthew 15 and Mark 7)

Tradition can make us sit in the same seat and we will not move - even if it is cooler up front. We seek to establish authority based upon tradition and not upon the word of God. "This is the way we have always done it," is our plea. There is nothing wrong with doing something the same way for years. A tradition can be healthy but when it becomes law, we have transgressed the commandment of God.

Jesus warned against making the law of man the law of God: "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:8,9) Tradition will become our doctrine and we can easily make it to be the law of God when the word of God says nothing about our tradition.

This enters into why we are Christians? Do we believe what we believe because we have always been members of the church of Christ? Is our faith based more upon the faith of our fathers and tradition than the soled foundation of a personal faith? It is easy to be accustomed to our faith and take it for granted with little conviction. Our faith should be based upon a personal conviction of truth and God's will alone.

What I believe is rooted upon the principles of God's word as it is alive in my heart. The faith I possess is mine because of a personal examination of truth. I will not be satisfied with the status-quo in religion but examine every aspect of why I believe what I believe. I will seek change based upon God's will and never remain tied down to the same seat for convenience sake.

Changing our seat spiritually is seeking growth. The Hebrew writer challenges his readers for their lack of growth: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14)

Be willing to change seats with the spiritual diet given by God in His word. Do not remain the same - grow! We cannot remain where we are through tradition or neglect. Changed people change their lives. And next time it gets hot, come closer - it is always cooler nearer the front.

By Kent Heaton

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