READ: Exodus 22-24, Psalm 25, Matthew 25, Acts 25
Further Up and Further In
My favorite C.S Lewis Narnia Chronicle is The Last Battle. In the final chapter Narnians explore Aslan’s country, finding that the further in they press, the broader and more beautiful the land. God’s concentric circles expand the closer you press to the center. The community of Narnians exhort one another, race one another, to press on and up to “higher ground” in joyful, non-competitive discovery.
But not all things of the Lord can be pursued in community. In Exodus 24 Moses ascends the mountain of God (ironically most likely situated in modern day Saudi Arabia) with the elders of Israel and Joshua. There they “saw the God of Israel” and even “eat and drink with Him” (v. 11). Staggering! How wonderful that communal interaction must have been. But God had a further invitation for just Moses and Joshua: “Come up to me….and be there” (v. 12). Moses and Joshua climb further up and further in and the glory of the Lord descends on the mountain as they linger in the presence of the Lord (v. 13-15).
On the seventh day, Moses alone is called out of the cloud and he communes with God for forty days and forty nights (v. 18). No other human companion travels with Moses to that place of intimacy. Some things of the Lord cannot be experienced corporately, some things Jesus tells us should be told to no man, no spouse, no child, no friend. Some intimacies are intended just for the partakers.
Some things of the Spirit are not to be shared. The lesson of the wise virgins in Matthew 25:9 is that oil is not to be given to others at cost to yourself. This sounds counter to laying down your life for others – but Jesus never intends for us to sacrifice intimacy with Him in the pursuit of helping His weak ones. God sets this boundary clearly for us: We must at all costs preserve a personal intimacy and relationship with Jesus, even if that pursuit means we refrain from helping or serving others. Why? Because if we are not intimate with Jesus (if we run out of oil), we have nothing transformative to give others anyway.
The single best thing I can do in my service to others is to Abide with Jesus. When I preserve my personal intimacy with Him, I can best serve the community around me. My intimacy with Jesus gives me the right – and the authority – to exhort others to rush “further up and further in.”