It only took one sentence to break my heart. I don’t mean that it just made me incredibly sad, or that it hurt for a few minutes—I mean that it literally shattered my heart. It made me stop and re-evaluate all of the things I was taking for granted in my own life.
I work for a Christian international relief organization, and some of the work we do is in countries that are closed to the Gospel. In several of these countries, Christians aren’t allowed to gather, they’re not allowed to own Bibles, and they’re not allowed to speak the name of Jesus. We had a guest visiting from one of these countries, and for the first time he was invited to church. After the service, he had tears streaming down his face as he said, “This must be what Heaven is like.”
The impact of that statement hit me hard. This man, who hid his Bible under the floorboard, had never stood side by side with other believers. He had never heard multiple voices singing, as one, praises to the King. He had never seen the body of Christ coming together in one place, for one purpose.
To him, coming before the throne with his brothers and sisters surrounding him, lifting up their voices to Jesus, was literally Heaven on earth.
To him, Heaven was doing the same thing that we get to do every single Sunday. To him, Heaven was going to the same place that we sometimes have to drag ourselves to in the mornings. To him, Heaven was hearing multiple voices singing the same songs that we complain about when they don’t fit our preferences.
There is so much that we take for granted when it comes to being able to surround ourselves with other believers. Despite personal differences or broken relationships, we can still stand next to each other and lift our voices in unison to our Father. We can pray with each other, sing with each other, and encourage each other.
His words broke me, but they also challenged me. When did church become an obligation? When did personal comfort become my spiritual goal? When did I start taking my brothers and sisters in Christ for granted? Scripture tells us to receive the kingdom of God like a child, and what a beautiful picture of childlike wonder: standing and singing together in awe of the glory of God.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
– Revelation 7:9-10