(another great blog from our brother Jay Hobbs!)
Well, it’s June again, and that means but one thing in the life of Student Ministries–Summer Camp!
Nothing like the combination of camp-dirt and milk-chug, along with the nightly camp fire and daily time of sitting under the Word in both individual and community-wide meetings.
But this blog is written as a warning to would-be campers, especially those at our beloved Northpoint Church, nestled in the heart of that center of the universe known as Corona.
The warning is this: Beware the Mountaintop.
Maybe it’s a dated expression by now, but I remember like it was yesterday my old pastor, Jim Holmes, talking about a phenomenon he called a “Mountaintop Experience.” Now, Pastor Holmes was about 80 years old when I knew him, and he’s since gone home to be with the Lord, but his expression has stuck with me ever since I was a little boy.
When Pastor Holmes talked about the Mountaintop Experience, he meant that ‘spiritual’ high that has always been so common among believers when we’ve been surrounded by God’s Word and God’s People for a weekend.
The problem with the Mountaintop is that it’s all-too-often an illusion because it’s all-too-often based on emotion, not on Truth.
There’s a great story about my favorite musician of all time, Rich Mullins. He had a great line for people who would come up to him after his concerts to share about how the Holy Spirit had moved in their hearts during one of his songs. Rich would look at them and say, “No, that’s actually when the kick drum and the bass came in. It’s easy to mistake energy and emotion for worship.”
When you go up to Summer Camp at the end of this week, dear Northpoint Student, pray to the Lord that you would not mistake emotion for worship, experience for obedience.
How do you know when you’re really worshipping? It’s when you’re obeying difficult commands of Jesus, like loving your enemy. Or, more to the point, it’s when you come down off the mountain and obey your parents with a genuine heart.
Another way to tell whether or not you’ve actually encountered the Living God up at camp is to ask yourself this question: “Do I want to be part of the community of believers (at Northpoint) week-in and week-out?”
You see, emotional experiences destroy real community, because they hold community to an unrealistic standard. We believers are at the same time fallen sinners and beloved saints, so real community means that we’ll bump into each other’s sin and interact with each other even on our off-days.
The Mountaintop Experience expects my brother to be on his game all the time, and so when I see him struggling with pride and selfishness, I reject him because he’s getting in the way of me and Jesus. I shout at my brother from my lofty Mountaintop perch, along with the Rolling Stones, “Hey, you, get offa my cloud!”
Friends, let’s come down off the mountain after this summer camp and love each other more deeply with the type of love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. After all, that is the kind of Son-sending love that God has shown us.
“Nothing is easier than to stimulate the glow of fellowship in a few days of life together, but nothing is more fatal to the sound, sober brotherly fellowship of everyday life … It is not the experience of Christian brotherhood, but solid and certain faith in brotherhood that holds us together.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together)