There is a great divide between our brethren, and I have found it because I have the privilege to stand before the congregation almost every week. Please trust me when I say this, if this issue were as simple as moving the pulpit, that’s what would be done. However, much thought has gone into this as I have, for the last 5 years, looked out over our worship space to see 100 people crammed into the back 18 pews while 100 are sprinkled throughout the front 34 pews. This probably shouldn’t cause red flags, but for me, it does. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I do know this; that the 10 feet of divide between the pews affects our ability to be unified in worship.
When Jesus prays in the garden before His trial, He prays for something in particular that I believe applies to this predicament. Jesus prays for those who would come to be part of the church by hearing the Word, you and me, and He asks for this, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:20-23
That 10 feet has not allowed us to be ‘one.’ That 10 feet has kept those serving from the pulpit unable to engage with the entire Body. That 10 feet has allowed people who have been worshipping in the same building for years to not know each other. That 10 feet has robbed us the opportunity to be edified by our brother & sister’s song. That 10 feet has robbed the Lord of the sound of praise He would receive from the force of 200 people seated together lifting their voices in unison. That 10 feet has robbed young and old of relationships that can only be made when we see and notice each other singing and learning. That 10 feet has robbed us of our courage as men and women for we fear being ‘too close.’ That 10 feet has robbed us of our ability to worship God in the most unified way.
It wouldn’t be fair to make this observation without presenting a solution and I believe the solution to be simple, we should sacrifice our comfort and make the effort to be close to one another. Let’s not just say we are unified, but show we are unified by our love and willingness to be uncomfortable to ourselves so that we can be united before God. Let’s walk that extra 10 feet forward or let’s scoot in down front. I believe a congregation that sits together will more effectively pray, praise, grow, and reach the lost. I encourage us to evaluate our hearts and minds and I pray that we will love each other with the love of the Lord and sacrifice our comfort for unity as we approach God in worship each and every Lord’s Day.