The First Thousand Years

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For years I have been supporting Shai Linne on Patreon, and for over a decade before that I have listened to and benefited from his music. What sets it apart, besides the obvious skill, is its clear and consistent focus on the gospel. In my mind, that is a good reason to support Shai. Last week I had the privilege of being part of a video call with Shai and several other supporters from all over the country. In light of current events we looked at the unity of the church in the Scriptures and then discussed.

Two things stood out from the conversation. First, social media is not helping. I was glad not to be the only one to conclude that, but several people mentioned it and everyone seemed to agree. The medium excels at proclamation but does not lend itself to discussion. My wife had previously made the point that with social media, everyone now has a platform from which to declare their thoughts. Unfortunately, too often they lack thoughtfulness. With the loudest voices on social media platforms only representing a minority of people anyway, you get a skewed picture of what is going on. Instead, have real conversations with people face-to-face, which means getting to know and spending time with others around you: family members, colleagues, neighbors, brothers and sisters.

Second, most people on the call were focusing on their local churches and their local contexts. It was refreshing to hear that, especially since I concluded as much in my article about how to get involved. Everyone was serving in their churches and trying to figure out what Christian unity should look like there. Shai recommended extending hospitality to brothers and sisters of other ethnicities, getting to know one another, and sharing each other’s stories (ideally over food!). We are very intentional about getting to know other members at our church, so this is already happening—or was, until everything got corona-canceled. Our various backgrounds, experiences, skills, and passions give us a taste of God’s beautiful creation in our local churches.

Thinking about the conversation afterwards steered my thoughts towards heaven, when our fellowship will be perfect, unmarred by sin. For the first thousand years or so, I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s stories. I imagine gasps and big eyes when we recount God’s innumerable works in the salvation and sanctification of his people: “No way! That’s what he did? I remember that part, but I never imagined …” We will be able to look over at the omnipresent Jesus in awe and wonder. He will give the perfect reply (because he is perfect), it will probably be funny, and we will laugh and worship together. I cannot imagine tiring from this. Our fellowship, on Sunday mornings or during the week over food, is a glimpse into God’s work even today. We are God’s living books, full of individual stories that, when combined, show his marvelous works through and throughout humanity. Let us share our stories, rejoice in him, and praise him for building his church!