What is The Catbird Seat?
Are you wondering why my blog is called “Sitting in the Catbird Seat” and what that means? Here’s your answer as concisely as I can put it:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Paul, Letter to the Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV)
Years ago I read a book that flipped my worldview upside-down. It changed the lenses through which I see my faith, giving me a new perspective, a new understanding. The book was written by a Chinese pastor who died in prison in the 70s. It was a brief study on the letter from Paul to the church in Ephesus. The book highlighted three simple bodily positions Paul uses as illustrations in his letter: Sitting, Walking, Standing. The idea being that sitting, walking, and standing (in that order), are the steps to maturing in the life with Jesus.
The first chapter of Ephesians is all about Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. It’s about their works, their plans, and what they did on our behalf. There is absolutely no action taken on our part. All the work of bringing mankind back to God was done by God. Most importantly, that work is finished. Jesus died on a cross to set us right with God and bring us back to him. The crux of the chapter is where Jesus is raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father. This is super-important, because in the second chapter something special is revealed. There’s nothing more to be done.
Again, speaking of God’s actions (not ours), even when we were dead in our sins, God made us alive with Jesus… God did it. Not you, not me, God. The next part is astounding, unbelievable even. God didn’t just give us life, he elevated us to where Jesus is and seats us next to him. Not standing, like a servant would, but sitting like a ruler. Somehow, those who are in his family are literally/figuratively sitting/ruling with him.
Maybe that doesn’t mean much to you. Let me explain… God takes his only son, whom he loves very much and gives him a place to sit next to him in heaven. Sitting is a resting position, a position of ruling even. Then he does the same to us. He gives us the best seat in the house, and not just for its viewing advantages, but because we’re a part of the family of God. Being a part of that family of God means you get the family privileges, as anyone with royal blood would.
The seat is a place of rest. It’s where we start. In western culture, we find it easy to work for everything. If you want a good retirement, you have to work for it. Not so with Jesus. When you join the family, he gives you a chair and says, “relax.” Why? Because we’re accepted from the start. Once you choose to follow Jesus and give your rights to him that’s it. The cost is you. After that, no startup fees, no installation charges. Rest is where life in Jesus begins.
This seat is completely unearned and it comes with authority. It’s from this place that the apostles were able to heal the sick, to tell the blind to see and they saw, the deaf to hear and they heard. It’s from this place that they were able to tell demons to leave, and they left. It’s from this place that we too can do these things. It’s not because we’re doing things right, but because we’ve been put in the right.
To sit in the catbird seat means to be in the best position possible, to have the upper hand, to have the advantage, to have all the aces in your hand. Sitting with Jesus is always sitting in the best possible place. This is what this blog is about more than anything. It’s about learning to rest in the finished work of Jesus, and learning to walk with him from that place of rest. It’s about recognizing that it’s not me who manipulates God into doing things through my good behavior, but following him and recognizing that he does things because he wants to. When people are healed, he’s the one doing it because he wants to.
By the way, the book was Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee. I highly recommend it.