God has been gracious to us – offering us several “heavenly appetizers”. An appetizer with respect to a meal is intended to stimulate our appetite – kind of a teaser for the main meal. God has given us several appetizers designed to stimulate our appetite for the main course – heaven! They are revealed to us throughout scripture. The Apostle John provides us a glimpse of heaven in the Book of Revelation. Of course, it’s called “Revelation” for a reason – God through John is revealing what heaven will be like – it’s a mere glimpse, a taste, but it’s huge. What we read in his letter is really beyond our comprehension. Imagine what the new heaven and new earth will really be like when Jesus Christ returns – indescribable I’m guessing – a place of eternal celebration – a place where we can’t help but bow down and worship God.
But in the meantime, God has given us a wonderful gift – His church – where we can come together, celebrate the blessings of God – and get an “appetizer” – a “taste”, albeit incomplete, of heaven here on earth. The role of the church in providing a corporate experience in which worshipers can sense the presence of God is vastly important. But the responsibility doesn’t fall only on the shoulders of the worship leaders and the preacher – if we come to worship as a consumer, we’re asking to be entertained – and if that’s what we want, we’ll often leave church unsatisfied. The corporate worship experience is intended to be a cooperative venture – with audience participation. It’s about all present being engaged in the experience. Coming prepared, with an expectation of God’s presence, participating, listening during the service, joining in wonderful unity provide a little bit of heaven on this side of heaven. It’s an appetizer before the main meal of Christ’s eventual return and the establishment of a new heaven and a new earth. That being the case, I can’t begin to imagine what the dessert will be like!