Throughout the Old and New Testaments there are clear references to the mountain of God.
Yes, there is a physical, literal mountain on the earth that will be the culmination of all history as Christ returns and rules (Micah 4, Ps. 68). Many prophecies across thousands of years affirm this. Since this is not an eschatological essay, we will not dwell on this mountain at this time.
Rather, we want look more closely at the spiritual mountain that the New Testament focuses closely on. That is the mountain of love—God's love.
God is love indeed. And God has put his spirit in every believer to enable him her to walk out their life in love—agape love:
"So now abide faith, hope, and love, these three. Butt the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13).
A recent prophecy concerning the decade of 2020 for the church recognizes the reality of the mountain of love which we are commanded to climb:
As we continue to climb the mountain of his love, our spiritual ability to see the far horizon—God's purposes—is increased. Because we can better understand God's purposes, our faith and love are increased; and because our faith and love are increased, we move higher up the mountain of love. And because we are higher, a yet newer horizon again appears. ... and we see yet further!
To enable us to better understand that God's love truly can be likened to a mountain, we need first look at a natural mountain. Mountains typically have four zones. As we progress up the mountain the landscape and conditions change, sometimes dramatically.
—The first zone is typically a forest in the low highlands.
—The second zone above the tree line is the scree field—crumbled, fragmented rocks from higher elevation accumulating at the slope edge.
—A third zone beyond that are the snowfields and glaciers with their crevasses at higher elevations.
—A fourth zone is jagged, ragged rock and cliff faces.
—Finally, there is the summit.
In order to understand better this mountain of love, let us deconstruct agape love described in 1 Corinthians 13 and see how it compares with the analogy of a natural mountain.
Consider the "low highland forest" aspect of love:
"Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love flaunts not itself and is not puffed up" (! Cor. 13:4).
Every person God brings into your life—past, present and future—has one objective in the purpose of God for your relationship with him/her: that you walk in God's love toward that person regardless of who they are. All the daily interactions with your family, your friends, your neighbors, your work associates and those you don't know out there are a test of your ability to climb this lowland level of love.
Are you patient with all these? Are you kind? Is jealousy far from your heart for all of these? Do some of those bring out your boastfulness? Are you even arrogant with some? This is the easy part of the climb! All you have to do is avoid some of the trees and rocks in the forest as you amble upward.
Unfortunately, many Christians never get out of the lowland forest for their entire lives. They struggle with impatience or unkindness or jealousy or a prideful heart up to their dying day.
Do you want to be stuck in the forest the rest of your Christian walk, or do you want to progress onward and upward in love on this mountain?
Consider the next level: the scree field. Scree is treacherous and hard to climb. Our footing is easily lost and progress can be slow. This next zone of the mountain of love is more difficult:
"[Love] does not behave itself improperly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked" (1 Cor. 13:5a).
This level of love is called for when God allows a treacherous person to come into your life. Yes, a treacherous person can indeed cause one to act unbecomingly. We can certainly be inclined to seek our own self-interest in the matter. And surely treachery can easily provoke!
But if you are actually progressing up this mountain of love, your response must be one of seemly conduct and not seeking your own self-interest nor allowing provocation to take hold.
You see, the mountain is getting harder and steeper now—not just like the forest level with all the people you deal with every day.
How is the climb progressing?
Beyond the scree field is the snow field with its glaciers and crevasses. Falling into a crevasse can definitely cause severe injury (or worse).
This next level of love can be likened to a snowfield with its crevasses:
"[Love] thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:5b-6).
Sometimes we experience betrayal by someone who is close to us. Betrayal is a difficult circumstance to deal with because of the relationship and the hurt—the deep hurt. The normal reaction is to take into account the wrong suffered and plan or think of retribution or payback.
But when you are walking in this level of love, there is not even a consideration of revenge or payback.
You surely forgive completely. You pray for the betrayer: God's will and love. You come back with a kindness that is totally undeserved. You rejoice in the truth of your love overcoming that evil act.
How's your climb coming in the crevasse of betrayal?
The fourth level of the mountain of love is like climbing those rocky cliff faces hand over hand, inch by inch:
"[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things" (1 Cor. 13:7).
"Things," SC 3956 in the Greek, is used to refer to both people and things.
There may be a few people (or even just one person) in your life who challenge the very limit of being able to bear or to believe or to hope or to endure because of the history. Or maybe it's a thing: a hope—a promise—a prayer—a vision—a suffering—a trial—a loss.
It's easier to run than to bear it. It's easier to disbelieve than to believe. It's easier to forego hope than to hope. It's easier to quit than to endure.
But if you're climbing the mountain of love at this level, you will bear it. You will believe it. You will hope for it. You will endure it. And all of that will be done with joy in your heart because you know God is working this out for your eternal glory.
How is your rock-climbing skill in love coming along?
Finally, the Pinnacle: Love Never Fails
Now the love of God is such a controlling factor in your life that no matter the person, no matter the circumstance, no matter the issue, no matter life or death—love prevails in you!
Don't be deceived, thinking, No person can love like this. The truth is many thousands, maybe millions of believers over the centuries have lived and climbed to the very pinnacle of this mountain of love. Some are called and recognized as saints. Many or most are not. Nevertheless, they have walked in the perfect love of God—climbed that mountain of love at every level until they have reached their goal: total intimacy with God himself.
Isn't that worth the pain and struggle of dying to yourself, climbing this mountain of love until the pinnacle is in sight?
Keep on climbing though the forest trees sometimes block the path, though you lose your footing on the treacherous scre, though you break your ankle in a crevasse, though your grip on the rocky cliff slips—keep on climbing!
Lastly, we look out over the vast horizon and begin to understand the incomprehensible unfathomable awesome love of God for us and for all men.
Louis Posthauer is the founder of Hunters of the Harvest, a ministry focused on equipping the local church to reach and restore dropout believers. Louis consults with pastors and church leaders to mobilize their congregation with a biblical strategy to reach the dropout believer. He serves as a lay leader and teacher at Calvary Community Church in Houston. To find out more about developing relationships of restoration with the Hunters strategy see more here.
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