The church of the mountain

Today I preached on the story in Marc 9:15 - 27. Jesus had taken Peter, James and John to a mountain to pray and fast. He left the nine other apostles at the foot of the mountain to take care of the crowds. The glory of God descended on the mountain and Jesus was transfigured before the three disciples, while a man with a demon possessed son came to the nine in the valley for deliverance. Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain to encourage Jesus while unbelieving masses surrounded the struggling disciples in the valley. On the mountain heaven spoke to the Lamb of God about His eternal mission to save the world from their sin while in the valley the world argued with the disciples about why this boy and his father were suffering. The presence of God on the mountain was so strong that it bleached white, even the garments of Jesus. The presence of darkness was so strong in the valley that it would throw the boy into the dirt and the fire, seeking to kill him.

When heaven was finished speaking to its ambassador, Jesus descended to the valley and was astonished at people’s unbelief. He set the father free from his own spiritual deafness and then delivered his son from a deaf and mute spirit. Later Jesus explained to the nine that this kind (of spiritual deafness) can only be broken through prayer and fasting. In other words, spiritual deafness and unbelief reign in the valley and are broken on the mountain.

This story speaks of two different types of churches: the church of the world, and the church of the mountain.

The first lives in the valley with a view of the mountain, the other lives on the mountain with a view of the world. The first is focused on meeting the temporal and immediate needs of the crowds that throng it, the other is focused on responding to the eternal mission of heaven and the desires of its King.

The church in the valley interfaces well with the world and the world feels comfortable with it. The church on the mountain interfaces well with heaven and the world is delivered by it. The church in the valley is relevant to the world and speaks its language. The church on the mountain is relevant to heaven and speaks its language. Success in the valley is measured by how many the church can accommodate. Success on the mountain is measured by how many the church can transform.

No matter how much money is spent decorating the church in the valley, in the end it has no more supernatural power than the sinners it is trying to help. So, whereas they stay close to the mountain they instinctively block the path that leads to the summit.

The challenge for the church on the mountain is to not forget that the world is their mission. Jesus is still seeking those who will worship in spirit and in truth. But the whole point of the divine encounter is to prepare us for the mission that awaits us in the valley.

There is peace, healing and glory on the mountain. And that is our true home. We go there to get encouraged and inspired. But it is not yet time to forget the mission. We cannot transform the mountain into a spiritual ghetto. It is our staging point, our launch pad. There is a dying world in the valley, and the carnal church that lives there is powerless to change it.

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