Guest column

A preview of paradise

A preview of paradise
Paul Smith
Paul Smith Paul Smith is full-time elder of Grace Baptist Church, Broadstairs, Kent. He is also a director and the book reviews editor for ET.
29 June, 2022 3 min read

Standing shoulder to shoulder with two brothers – one I knew well and one I didn’t – we were enjoying singing God’s praises. In a room packed with brothers and sisters of different ages. From all across the country. Face to face fellowship. No distancing. No fear.

The enemy of our souls is enraged. He was much happier when we were apart.

It all feels so natural because it is. Doubly so. Mixing is normal human behaviour. But Christian conferences also provide a foretaste of heaven. We now appreciate in-person gatherings like never before. Even climate activists readily justified the huge carbon footprint of COP26 because they knew that personal contact matters.

Heaven’s citizens have been desperate to gather. Those with evangelistic fervour have been back on mission teams. Those seeking brotherhood in ministry have been to pastors’ conferences. Those thrown together by geography have been back as gathered churches. The local church gathering is a preview of paradise: heaven’s citizens gathering in the presence of their king to be the worshippers their God is seeking.

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