Many years ago, like in the 1970s, there was a song sung by Karen Carpenter called “Top of the World .” The lyrics for the chorus of this song were:
I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation, and the only explanation I can find, is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around, your love’s put me at the top of the world.
We often want to be on the top of the world, don’t we? For most of us, that is simply a wish that we could get out of the dismal surroundings that confront us on a day-to-day basis. We want to be taken out of our current situation and put on top of it so that we won’t have to deal with the issues, be hurt by others, face difficult consequences, etc. We will be on top of the problem and it won’t be able to adversely affect us anymore.
A picture that comes to my mind when I think of escaping to the top of the world is that of the Meteora Monasteries in Greece. These monasteries of the Greek Orthodox Church were built high above the ground between the 14th and the 16th centuries. In fact, they are about 1,300 feet above ground. Wars and invasions were the norm, so having the monastery up above the fray was a way to minimize distractions, enable the monks to meditate more effectively, and, not at all an insignificant concern, it provided them a place of safety because of their incredible isolation from the world below.
In fact, goods and supplies, as well as visitors to the monasteries, were transported to the top by way of ladders lashed together and baskets tied to ropes, which were then hoisted to the top via pulleys. Now there are steps for easier access to some of the monasteries, but hundreds of years ago the way to the top was, indeed, formidable.
For more information, see the CNN Travel article about this area at http://www.cnn.com/travel/article/meteora-greece/index.html
It is indeed enticing to be on “top of the world”. But is this where we are to stay? Is this following the mandate that our Lord gave to His disciples? I think not.
Immediately before Jesus ascended into heaven, He and his disciples were gathered together and He gave them His final instruction:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
We are to go and make disciples, this is what the Lord commanded. This does not sound like we are to retreat from involvement with people, does it?
In a prior post we looked at living in a cave, something that has been done throughout history. Even King David hid in a cave when hunted by Saul. Thus, he spoke from experience when he said in Psalm 139:
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”
Psalm 139:7-8 ESV
Simply put, we cannot run from God. He is with us and sees us in the cave as well as on top of the mountain.
I certainly do not deny the good work that the monks have done, and are still doing, in the Greek Orthodox Church worship that occurs in these monasteries. Indeed, a retreat to the mountain top is exhilarating and we can experience God in a new way by stepping out of society and into a meditative cocoon, into silence and tranquility so that we can hear God’s “still small voice” [1 Kings 19:12] as He speaks to us in the way He has done through the millennia.
But, ministry, the work of the Lord in His world and the fulfilling of His command to His disciples, requires that we interact with those who are lost, who do not have a life-giving relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It requires that we go out of the place of worship and into the world; it requires that we be the light guiding others to Christ; it requires that we be the salt that heals and preserves as we introduce the Lord Jesus to those who do not know Him by our words and our lifestyle witness.
Whether it is a cave or a mountaintop retreat, we need to come out and interact with people as we make disciples. We should obey the Lord’s command, because we love Him; and we should do it all to the glory of the Father, the Almighty God.
Father, I pray that You would enable me to honor Your Son, Jesus Christ, as I live before others in the power of His Spirit. May my witness be glorifying to You and may Your Spirit bring others into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.