When it comes to your faith, don’t focus on the mountaintop experience. Become attuned instead to intimacy with Christ and fellow believers.
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:1-4)
Have you ever been in a time of worship and asked yourself if the song was ever going to end?
There can come a tipping point in some worship moments where the emphasis is less on the object of worship than it is the state of worship.
You know what I’m talking about. The song that never ends. The demand that “we’re going to keep praying until something happens”. The alter call that won’t end until someone comes down.
Seeking a Mountaintop Experience
I am honestly not trying to call out a particular person or group when I say this. There could be sincere people that think that by doing so they are doing good and right.
And in some instances, these could be genuine leadings of the Spirit. Just like there are worshippers who genuinely get caught up in the sublime while remaining focused on God.
Nevertheless, if worship leaders (and I mean that term to include anyone in a role of directing worship, not just musicians) aren’t extremely careful, such tactics can turn a worship experience into seeking excitement or an adrenaline rush. In Christian parlance, this is called looking for a mountaintop experience.
This isn’t entirely on them, though. Worshippers are just as culpable of being tempted to seek an experience instead of Christ. Maybe even more so, because if thrill-seekers aren’t getting what they are looking for, they can just move on to another experience. Clearly, that’s not sustaining fellowship in the Body of Christ.
So to anyone – worshipper or leader – seeking a thrilling worship experience, this is my advice: don’t focus on the mountaintop. That is not where your Christian journey will be sustained.
Overwhelmed in the Moment
I don’t have the documentation handy to back it up, but I’m fairly certain today’s passage is where the phrase “mountaintop experience” comes from.
Are we surprised that it is Peter that suggests commemorating this incredible moment by building a set of memorials? His earnestness shines through many times in the gospels, as in this moment.
Peter was locked into an adrenaline-filled moment. And does anyone blame him? I would be surprised if anyone didn’t react in awe and amazement at such a sight.
As the record in the Bible continues, it was God the Father Himself who brought things back down to earth, so to speak.
That was another overwhelming moment, but one that inspired more terror than awe for Peter, James and John.
In the course of a very short period of time, these 3 disciples experienced more than one extreme adrenaline swing. I’m sure it was quite the moment for them. These 3 disciples probably weren’t sure what to do next, until Jesus spoke again.
Focused on Christ in the Moment
When God spoke, He didn’t say anything along the lines of don’t focus on the mountaintop. He didn’t scold Peter, James, and John. Rather, He directed the 3 of them to pay attention to Jesus.
Neither did Jesus scold them. Instead, He gently instructed the 3 of them to “not be afraid” and to tell nobody of what they had seen until after His resurrection.
Christ took the focus off the mountaintop and back to the moment with Him.
Had the Bible recorded a stern warning or rebuke coming from God the Father, I don’t know that I would be surprised. But I am so glad to see how it was handled.
Bringing the focus back on Christ in the moment resulted in a few benefits.
First, it gave the disciples an opportunity to “come down from the mountaintop” and set aside their heightened states.
Second, and more importantly, it returned the 3 disciples’ focus back from this overwhelming moment to the object of worship Himself, which is Christ.
Focusing on Christ Instead of the Mountaintop
The reason not to seek the mountaintop ourselves is because eventually, we will tire of it. Or, like someone who has an addiction, we will continue to seek greater mountaintop experiences, and feel depleted and miserable the rest of the time. But the truth is, you will be filled when you seek Christ Himself (Jeremiah 29:13).
When you consider the ways in which Christ calls us to abide with Him – study, prayer, and as we have highlighted in this article, fellowship – very few of them will open the door to an adrenaline-filled experience unless we make it that way.
The completeness we experience in Christ comes out of our relationship with Him, not stimulating moments, which are fleeting.
Jesus Christ fills our spirit, not with thrills, but in the everyday moments. He blesses us with the fruits of the Spirit, none of which speak to a heightened experience. Rather, they bring peace and fulfillment.
When I look back on my life, I would be hard pressed to describe in detail to you the moments I got carried away in worship.
But I can tell you in detail every time God intervened directly, intimately in my heart. I can tell you several stories about how the Body of Christ met me where I needed to be met.
So please, take this as an encouragement – don’t focus on the mountaintop. Seek your sustenance and fulfillment in your daily walk with Jesus Christ.
More verses about worshipping God intimately: