When we were still relatively new to our church, we arrived a little early and sat down in an empty pew. Only minutes before service began, a larger family than mine walked up to where we were sitting and looked stunned to see us there. And annoyed. Very obviously annoyed.

Although there were plenty of open pews in the same section, they looked at us, stammering and acting put out. I’m not dumb, and as I saw the mom was not going to let this drop, I asked her, “Do you want us to move?”

“Oh, no. No.” She sighed. “We’ll sit back here,” she said, finally moving to the pew behind us. Her family followed. We had apparently rocked their world.

Truthfully, if it had been our first visit to the church, I don’t know if we would have returned. I felt like we’d been put in the spotlight—the “you-sat-in-my-pew” spotlight. The one that makes you cringe and feel like you’re being stared at throughout the entire service.

It was hardly welcoming. Nor was it conducive to hearing God’s message in a worshipful setting.

Their reaction to us sitting in their invisibly-marked-with-their-name pew was not what I expected.

Their behavior did not support their claim of being Christians.

It’s easy to notice an unfamiliar face in church, especially if they don’t fit what we expect to see. It might be how someone is dressed, how they act, or where they sit. We notice it.

But after noticing, how do we respond?

Do we look past what we see on the outside and welcome them? Or is our vision clouded by what we first see, causing us to become judgmental?

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2 NLT

I wonder if how we react depends on where our thinking starts—with ourselves or with others.

When I think of myself first, I see life from my viewpoint. How could she wear that? It’s inappropriate.

When I think of others first, I don’t see how I’m affected, but what it means for the other person. He’s here alone. That must be really hard.

Or when I consider what God might be thinking. {Big smile} My daughter is here today.

What does our reaction say about us as Christians?

Having been on the receiving end of disapproving stares makes me think back on how I’ve reacted when someone or something wasn’t what I expected to see. And from what perspective I view unfamiliar faces.

How about you? Does your behavior inside the church support your claim of being a Christian?


In Christ,

Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith


Does My Behavior Inside the Church Support My Claim? is Part Two of a two-part postFor Part One, click here: Does My Behavior Outside the Church Support My Claim?