Our youth group is built around Bible Study. Our main meeting time is Wednesday nights at 7 pm. We share a meal. There is laughter and conversation. And then we study scripture, or scriptural concepts. We may accomplish this by studying a book of the Bible, or looking to see how the Bible guides us in dealing with modern, newsworthy issues, or we may look to the Bible for answers on a particular topic.
Other times our study involves Biblical concepts from a non-Biblical source. For instance, over the last several weeks the high schoolers have been reviewing David Platt’s latest book, Something Needs to Change. This is an account of a 7 day journey David Platt took in the Himalayan Mountains and the very real faith struggles this journey produced.
On day 4 of the journey, David and his companions must trek up the side of a mountain. The 1,500 ft. climb/hike takes 2 hours. David describes how he would walk 10 steps, then stop to admire the scenery…and catch his breath. Upon completion of the climb he is met with great news, his friend Aaron tells him, “The only church that exists in these villages is meeting here tonight, and it looks like we’re going to be able to worship with them.”
Do you notice anything interesting about that statement? Aaron did not say, “the only church in the area is here, and people will gather to worship tonight.” Aaron indicated that the church would gather in the village. The church is not in the village, at least not yet. The church is gathering in the village.
Throughout the journey David has described how dark it is at night, and how cold. This is a brutal part of the world. But on this night, before the church gathers, Aaron points out lights on the mountainside. It seems that the same journey that took David 2 hours in the daylight is now being made by those coming to worship.
Think about that. A 2 hour walk in subzero temperatures on an unlit trail up a mountain to arrive for worship. Followed by another walk down the mountain when the time of worship concludes. That is dedication!
When everyone arrives around 50 people gather in a small room (David describes it as the size of a bedroom, or small living room). And for the next 2 hours they worship. Following the worship there is a time of sharing and encouragement. The encouragement is needed for some as they face persecution for their faith. Others share personal needs which are then claimed by people in the room as an opportunity to serve and help each other.
David makes this observation, “They don’t have a nice building. They don’t have a great band. They don’t have a charismatic preacher. They don’t have any programs. They just have each other, God’s Word in front of them, and God’s Spirit among them. And, apparently, that’s enough.”
I don’t know about you, but this story humbles me. How can so much love and devotion to God come from those who have so much hardship, and so little come from me, who has been given so much?
If you feel the same, we are not alone. In response to seeing this, David comments, “Sure, I have been to seminary, written books, pastored churches, and led ministries, but compared to these brothers and sisters, I know so little of what it costs to follow Christ. Compared to them, I know so little of what it means to depend on and trust in Christ for all that I need. I know so little of what it means to take risks to make his love known.”
This gives me hope. I am not alone in my struggle to surrender to God. I am not alone in realizing how far I am from fully depending on Him for all my needs. I am also not alone in realizing how little devotion to God my life projects when compared to these people.
This leads me to one last quote from the book. It sums up how I want to live, and how I would like for our church to be described. In David’s words this is, “the church as God has designed it to be. A people fearlessly holding on to God’s Word while selflessly sacrificing to share and show God’s love amid need around them.” Amen.