I was raised in the Christian church. It is one of the great gifts of my life. The church is still my home.
As a boy I was persuaded a magical membrane encompassed a Christian church. As you passed through the membrane, it marked you with an essential truth. You were one of the God-people. Those who chose to reside outside the membrane could not claim this eternal privilege. I was taught to take great pride, seasoned with gratitude, that I existed among those inside the church.
I continue to serve in the church. My eyes continue to take in the sounds, the faces, the symbols. The chairs are arranged so that everyone is facing the altar of Christ. Every body is pointed at the One from whom we all receive life. The very shape of the sanctuary reinforces the membrane belief. Those outside shuffle to and fro, oriented every which way, toward the things of this world. But for those inside, our bodies are our compass, pointed at the cross.
There is only one problem.
While my body is oriented toward the altar, my soul so often is not. Many Sundays, when my eyes shift from the external—the stage, sermon, and sacraments—to the internal, I must admit that my heart is not on Christ.
I wonder what would happen if we re-arranged the chairs of the church to reflect the congregants' true heart longings. How many chairs would still face the cross? How many would face some other place, a place far away? How interesting it would be to see the seating arranged according to the actual state of our hearts.
Then I wonder, what if we applied the same experiment to those beyond the membrane, giving a chair to every person in my neighborhood? How many would have chairs pointed at least partly toward the cross? Their conscious selves may ...