It was a joy to travel to Huntsville, Alabama with my wife this past weekend to conduct a teacher training at Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCA). They are one of our latest churches to fully implement OSM’s Sunday School curriculum. It was great to be able to encourage them in the Biblical foundations of the Christian education of children and youth, as well as introduce them to the curriculum itself. Since I don’t often get to meet face-to-face with those who are teaching our curriculum in the various churches across the country, this was a real treat!
Interacting with other Bible-believing churches is so important for all of us as Christians. Like many other opportunities (doing short-term missions, for example), it gets us outside of ourselves, our communities, and even our own local church. It reminds us that we are really just a piece in the bigger kingdom puzzle, when we are tempted to think we make up the whole picture on our own. Meeting other Christians and seeing their love for Jesus in another city or part of the world just gives us a greater awe of God and for His immense and powerful Kingdom.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus’ last words to His disciples before His ascension were: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This was certainly a specific command for the apostles, establishing both the power and priority of their ministries. Yet I think our Lord Jesus was also communicating a pattern for the church and Christians of all ages–that we work in ministry in our own Jerusalem, then our own Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. In other words, we are not just to participate in the work of the Kingdom in our small puzzle piece, but broaden our vision to see the entire picture, historically and geographically as well!
Isn’t it amazing when you meet Christians in other cities or states or countries that it often feels like you have an almost instant connection? We know that is Christ in us, uniting us in heart and mind. But when you go one step further and start to work alongside other Christians in other places, or do mission work together, or even share the same Sunday School curriculum–how much greater the connections become! You start speaking the same language and share in the same passion. Even if you just spend a few hours or days with other believers, it is almost like you have been friends forever. This is a foretaste of eternity!
With that dynamic in mind, I think one of Satan’s great methods in His desire to crush God’s Kingdom is to keep Christians very self-focused. If life is just all about ME or even if it all about MY FAMILY or MY CHURCH, then Satan can limit the progress of gospel growth. But when we get outside of ourselves and even our families and our own church from time to time, we develop kingdom eyes which help to strengthen one another as the body of Christ. Too many Christians are walking alone, living alone, and working alone. Too many churches spend their energy primarily on their own efforts and programs. If most of the pieces of a puzzle act alone and stand alone, they will never develop a recognizable picture. The witness of the Church to the ends of the earth can only happen when we are connected to one another because of our connection to Christ.
So, on a very personal note, it was extremely gratifying when the elders of my local church desired for the Sunday School curriculum I wrote for our ONE church to be offered to any and all other Christian churches. And now that One Story Ministries has been born and is gradually growing to provide Bible curriculum for homes and churches across the country and the world, it is a humbling reminder of how we are a small part of the bigger Kingdom of God. To God be the glory, for the great things He does through a body that is connected to Christ and one another!