The Downside of a Spiritual High
“Now as they came down from the mountain,
Jesus commanded them …”
Go Deep: We love mountaintop experiences; “spiritual highs” — experiences so wonderful that we never want to lose the good feeling of their warm afterglow. Like the good feelings we had at the moment of salvation, or an ecstatic encounter with the Holy Spirit, or when we cried our eyes out at the altar during summer youth camp, or at a revival meeting when God’s presence seemed so thick you could slice it.
The problem with those kinds of experiences is that we tend to fixate on them, and then rate the rest of our Christian walk against them. Unfortunately, nothing can quite live up to the warm fuzzies of a mountaintop high.
We love to stay on the mountaintop with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, don’t we? That feels so good, and going back down to the valley where life is lived is so…well, so mundane. But following Jesus always means we have to “come down from the mountain to do as he commands.” We have to leave the sanctuary, the worship service, the warm incubator of our small group Bible study and get back into the game of extending the Kingdom to those who don’t know Jesus yet.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain where he was transfigured—literally, morphed—right before their eyes. And not only that, two of Israel’s greatest prophets appeared before them—Moses and Elijah. Peter, predictably, suggested what the other two disciples were thinking: “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three [shelters]: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:4)
Who wouldn’t want to stay there! I would. I would want to can that spiritual experience and pull it back out of the can everyone once in a while—okay, a lot—to enjoy the moment of that “spiritual high” all over again.
Here’s the deal: God never intends for us to fixate on “spiritual highs”; they are meant for fuel to empower us for some spiritual assignment. Jesus didn’t have this encounter with Moses and Elijah just so he could feel special. Luke 9:31 says that these two Old Testament prophets came to encourage him about his upcoming departure—literally, in the original text, his “exodus.” Jesus was about to face the greatest assignment of all—the cross. This mountaintop experience was meant as fuel for his impending death for the sins of the world.
Now don’t misunderstand, I am not down on “spiritual highs.” They are wonderful, and necessary. Just don’t fixate on them! Resist the urge to erect a shelter just so you can bask in their warm afterglow. Don’t rate the rest of your Christian experience against them. Simply see them for what they are: fuel for the assignment ahead.
Then get off the mountain and back in the game. And while you’re at it, get out there and give ‘em some heaven!
Just Saying… Charles Spurgeon gave a good dose of spiritual reality to all of us mountaintop types: “Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service.”