By Jim Biscardi, Jr.
Not many of us get to taste what heaven could be like – with “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne, and in front of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9). Most of us are set in a local church, and faithfully serve the Lord there. Our community of believers consists almost entirely of those from our own church. Occasionally, we are privileged to get together with other churches, but, generally, they are from our same denomination.
Are you, like me, saddened about the separation between churches in your hometown? I’ve tried to imagine how powerful our witness for Christ could be if churches would find a way to work together and develop a cooperative strategy to reach their towns for Christ.
Not only could believers experience the unity and singleness of purpose that was meant to be, but Scripture also tells us doing that would have an evangelistic effect on our towns and draw people to Christ (John 17:21). We would surely foil Satan’s game plan to divide Christians and have them destroy one another (Galatians 5:15).
But sometimes the Lord does give us peeks into heaven here on earth.
Recently, here on the Jersey shore, we had 700 volunteers from 53 cooperating churches blanketing the area with handouts and many came to Christ at local music venues.
Besides that great outreach, something else wonderful happened. Our church has been trying to eliminate our mortgage by the end of the year, after carrying the debt for many years. We thought this might be the year we could be debt free. Offerings were coming in, but we found ourselves about $23,000 short of our goal.
One morning, a pastor from another church – not in our denomination – knocked on our pastor’s door. He said that his church was involved in a building program, and that the Lord was leading his congregation to “first sow seed into the good soil of another church.” He had about our debt-free plan on Facebook and wanted to be a part of it. He sat down and wrote a check for the $23,000 balance. Praise the Lord!
This gracious act of kindness from one congregation to another, and the unified efforts of those 53 churches, reminded me of the cooperation between the whole Body of Christ that the Lord let me experience for many years when I served as president of New Jersey Christian Ministries. Let me share some of that experience with you…
Every year, there was an opportunity to taste a little bit of heaven – to worship the Lord and learn of Him together with brethren outside our local community of believers. It was always one of the most encouraging, exciting, and eye-opening experiences of this abundant Christian life (John 10:10).
I was privileged to host the general session of the annual Christian Ministries Convention, where 800+ brethren (pastors, youth leaders, teachers, and other church members), from between 150-200 different churches of various denominations in the Metro New York region, worshiped our Lord Jesus Christ together, and were inspired by a dynamic keynote speaker. AND IT WORKED GREAT!
For a few precious moments, we were in the midst of those gathered “before the throne and before the Lamb” worshipping Him in our own way – some standing, others not – some with raised hands, others not – some clapping, others not. All done decently and in order to show respect and to honor Jesus Christ – the object of our praise and thanksgiving! For a brief moment we were living out Christ’s prayer to our heavenly Father, “…that they all may be one…that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” (John 17:21).
And, if that wasn’t enough, at our interdenominational Friday night youth rally, many young people always came to Christ.
In addition to the general session and youth rally, there were at least 100 workshops and several panel discussions that were taught by highly qualified instructors from all over the Body of Christ. Half of them were clergy or had PhDs, and most of the rest led their own ministry. Together, they helped us grow in Christ’s love, and be successful (Ephesians 4:13-16).
And there were exhibits from Bible colleges, publishers, retreat centers, music ministries, creative ministries, missions and evangelistic ministries, bookstores, family ministries, counseling ministries, and much more. They always had the latest resources to help attendees be better equipped to make disciples (Matthew 28: 19-20).
As an author and teacher for over 40 years, I appreciated opportunities to learn from others. Like you, I didn’t always agree with everything I heard, but I looked for the precious “jewels” – the treasures from “His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). In addition to the actual experience of being energized by the Holy Spirit in teaching others, those “jewels” have also become some of my most prized blessings. And the Lord has used them over and over again in my teaching opportunities.
As the Body of Christ, let’s always maintain a “new wineskin heart,” so the Lord can stretch us with the truth from His Word (Luke 5: 36-39). Let’s become an answer to His prayer for unity in John 17:21. And by “being rooted and grounded in love, may [we] be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breath, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which transcends knowledge, that [we] might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).
At present, I am teaching a Bible study with about 30 attendees from five different churches of various denominations. IT WORKS GREAT!
Let’s be like that congregation that helped make my church debt-free, and be open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to cooperate with one another as communities of believers. Let’s experience a taste of heaven here on earth.
As a teacher, author, columnist, and president emeritus of New Jersey Christian Ministries, Jim Biscardi has been “privileged for many years to help Christians grow in their knowledge of Christ.” You can find his books at barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com