Micah 4:1, "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it."
This morning, people
undervalue certain things and overvalue others. It takes no great or prolonged
observation to see that people in this country overvalue entertainment, whether
in Hollywood or sports. Likewise, people undervalue the family unit as God
instituted it by rising divorce rates and ignoring parental responsibility to
the point of having unruly children for as far as the eye can see. So, whether
the ground of thought is current undervaluing of family, faith, or personal
responsibility or the overvaluing of carnal pleasure, jobs in the pursuit of
money, or self-interest, the point is easily made. However, one thing today is
perhaps more undervalued than at any time in recent history (if not ever). That
one thing is the perception and observed value of the church here in this
world. Such a priceless treasure is sadly neglected by many and completely
scoffed at by many more.
One of the truly
interesting things about modern day man's perception of Christianity and the
idea of church is just how flippantly it is handled. Being a Christian and
being associated with a "church" today is just as casual as what club you might
belong to or what moniker you prefer to where (i.e. what denomination you
associate with just to be able to answer the question). Yesterday, I heard an
interesting term while listening to talk radio. The term was a "C E
Christian." Since yesterday is the day that many people observed the holiday
Easter, I quickly figured out what the term meant. Christmas and Easter
Christians only attend church twice a year around or on those two holidays.
Sadly, many probably feel that they have discharged some duty and responsibility
by doing so, when the landscape of our duty is far higher and more difficult
Looking at our study
verse above, one thing to immediately notice is some language that appears over
and over in Holy Writ whenever the Lord speaks about His church, His house, or
His mountain. Whenever the church (or house of the Lord) is referenced in the
word of God, it is always in an elevated fashion. Our verse references the
house of the Lord not only as elevated but elevated higher than anything else in
the earth. Being in the mountains is high, but the church is established in the
top of the mountains. Nothing else on earth is higher, nobler, or more
resplendent than she is.
Taking the thought
that she is situated in the top of the mountains, what connotations could we
bring to bear on that thought? Some people object to the church having rules,
obligations, and duties for people to keep not only to enter but also to stay
within her. One preacher actually said in a rather sarcastic way (in the pulpit
I might add), "Some people make the church harder for folks to get into and stay
in than it is for them to get and stay in heaven." He really popped when I said
amen to the thought that he so callously abhorred. Considering that our effort
to either get or stay in heaven is zero, logically, any effort to get or stay in
the church is more than to get or stay in heaven.
To enter into the
church and maintain good order as one of her members, our study verse's language
requires that we "go higher." Our moral conduct, personal business, spiritual
uplook, and all other points relating to our walk in life needs to seek the
higher ground. No one can get to the top of the mountain without going higher
to get there. Considering some conduct today, it is not enough to simply be
"above the world," because a consistently crumbling world gets worse and worse.
Therefore, our standard is not to simply be "above the world," but rather to try
to hit "the mark" of Jesus Christ and honour His code and principles as upheld
by His church in this world.
When thinking about
the now-termed "C E Christians" yesterday, I began to ponder again what the
Bible says about our responsibility to the house of God in attendance. When
reading Paul's language in Hebrews 10 about not forsaking the assembling of the
saints as some do, that particular "misdeed" is not nearly as flippant a problem
as most today seem to believe. Paul goes on to say that by missing service and
not assembling with the saints, we are saying - through our actions - that
Christ's sacrifice and blood is not worth enough to us to even put forth the
personal effort to come out to His house. By not going, we are trampling
underfoot that very blood that redeemed us and saying it means very little to
us. Truly, our personal conduct between services is contained in the thought as
well, for Paul encourages us to provoke one another to love and good works and
so much the more "as ye see the day approaching." That day, dear friends, is
the day of worship and service. Therefore, our conduct in the between times
should also serve to show how much we think of Christ's sacrifice to us.
If Christ's blood is
truly important to us and if we are truly thankful for that most noble
sacrifice, our thoughts should be invoked to the highest order to put personal
gain, self-interest, and entertainment on the back burner to attending to the
house of the Lord. Jobs are important and money must be made to provide for our
families and meet the needs of life, but the highest of all things in this earth
should be our efforts to go higher to the top of the mountain.
mountain must be scaled not only in personal conduct but also in truth as well.
Many today dislike the idea of absolutes. Even though logical reasoning
understands that they must exist else complete chaos would ensue, people still
shy away from thinking about them. So, the idea of absolute truth is
unappealing to many today. Yet, the church should stand for the pure,
unadulterated, and absolute truth of Holy Scriptures. Indeed, none of us know
it all, but there should still be truths that we contend for in the top of the
mountain that are essential and without compromise.
Therefore, we conclude that the house of the Lord requires the highest order of thinking in both truth and ethical, moral, and righteous behaviour. What would be the logical conclusion? The logical conclusion is that such behaviour leads us to geography that experiences things other places do not. I have had the privilege to scale, hike, or ascend to the top of natural mountains. One thing that always strikes me about that scene is just how different everything is up there. Things look different, sound different, and feel different. Things are different in the house of the Lord than anywhere else. Since the house of the Lord has its own feel, smell, look, and sounds, she enjoys something alien to anything else in this world.
The house of the Lord that people flow unto is where the Lord comes down very personally and specially in this world. Since the Lord blesses obedience in this world, it is simply a logical conclusion to reach that the highest order of obedience would meet with the highest order of blessing. The church experiences blessings that cannot be found or experienced anywhere else. Miss church, and blessings will inevitably be missed. Attend meeting without seeking to maintain the highest order of thinking and acting, blessings will be missed. The top of the mountain is where the Lord is seen most vividly, felt most preciously, and heard most sweetly.
Truly, while many things could be undervalued more than they are and others overvalued more than they are, it would be difficult to value the church too highly. One of the finest analogies I ever heard about the church and our mentality toward her came from my departed, natural father, "I can take a lot of personal abuse. However, you pick on my bride or abuse her, I might just pop you on the nose." Thankfully, no one ever experienced that, but friends, the reason that the church should be so special to us is because she is special to Him. He loves and provides for her in special ways. That care and compassion should never be taken for granted. May we ascend to the top of the mountain, experience His rich presence, and seek to show forth our thanks to and for Him both in the assembling of ourselves together and in between by provoking one another to love and good works till the next meeting time.