It seems to always happen when I fly. Four people vying for three seats. The dreaded feeling of coming upon your row of seats, finding every seat taken, and knowing one of the seats is yours. As I came upon row 17, seats 17D, 17E, and 17F were all taken.
“Excuse me, but this is my seat,” I say as politely as I can after wresting two children on to the airplane. The look of bewilderment greets my statement as the three people in row 17 are surprised some stranger is addressing them. Then, an incredulous look, insinuating that I am clearly mistaken.
“17D is my seat,” I state again, hoping to show that I know what I am talking about.
“D is my seat,” a lady responds. She knows within herself that she is correct and simply looks back at me, implying the error is mine.
How is the situation going to be resolved? The lady sitting in my seat clearly believes that she is right. However, I also know that I am right. Since I believe I am right and she believes she is right, what is going to determine the answer? What will resolve the dispute? Both of us cannot be right. We both may be wrong and the seat belongs to another, but we both cannot be right.
I reach down into my front pocket and pull out my ticket stub. In large, bold letters “17D” is emblazon upon my paper. I hold it in the air, as if it is a million dollar lottery ticket, and display it to the woman.
“Oh,” she responds. “I am 16D.” She grabs her things and moves up one row. Harmony and order have now returned to the momentary chaos on the small jetliner. The only way the dispute could be resolved was to refer to the standard which would determine the answer for both parties. In this case, the standard was the official document provided by the airline designating who sits where. When the standard was revealed, it did not matter who thought they were right. The woman could have sworn to be right. She could have claimed to talk to the ticketing agent who told her to sit where she was. She could have said that her seat “felt right” and she was staying. But none of those answers would have mattered once the ticket stub was shown. The standard revealed who was in error.
We see this exact same problem in religion. We have hundreds of religions and denominations claiming to be the way of God. Each of them claims to be right. The worshippers in each religious group believe they are in the right place. Some know they are in the right place because “it feels right.” Others believe they are in the right place because their parents always brought them there and raised them with a particular belief. Still others may declare that God has told them to be where they are.
How are we going to know who is right? How can we determine which religious group is right? How can the worshipper know he or she is at the right place? The answer to who is right can only be determined by going to the standard. The Bible is the standard because it is the word of God. We cannot determine who is “right” in religion by the size of the church building, the friendliness of the congregation, the way we feel when we attend, nor any other human standard. Let us lift up the Bible to determine who is right and what God desires of us. We may find we have been sitting in the wrong seat.