There is a lot of talk going on in some circles about taking mountains these days in the Church. And folks are most likely not talking about the sport of mountaineering. Usually they are speaking about concepts of cultural engagement. The Seven Mountains of Culture are spheres of social influence, usually defined as Business, Government, Family, Church, Education, Media and Entertainment/Arts.
Some of the heart behind this cultural engagement talk I really resonate with. I love the fact people are hearing the truth that every single one of us is in ministry. Ministry is not the purview of any one vocation. We are all called to serve. And that is what ministry means after all, to serve. I love the fact lovers of Jesus are dreaming bigger than the four walls of a church building, dreaming about becoming the change they are called to bring. That truly excites me.
But then there are a other things that creep into this topic that I wonder about and some others the outright concern me. Here I go right out on a limb being controversial. Will you allow me to throw some “what-ifs” into the mix?
It is often said by those focused on taking cultural mountains that, “The people who occupy the high places have the influence.”
Yes indeed. But what if in this upside down Kingdom we live in the high place we are called to occupy is actually a low place and we have it backwards? Or what if the mountain we are called to ascend to become a cultural influencer is something all together different? What if it is not about scaling the cultural mountain at all? What if in our drive to climb a mountain of industry, be the best and position ourselves for power, we are actually negating the very platform God wants to establish in and through our lives? I warned you I was going to be controversial.
I have been praying a lot recently about understanding the government and authority of God’s Kingdom. Some amazing things are opening up and it will take a good while to unpack them all until they become real in me. Anything God releases with power through us, He first does in us.
And it came to pass in those days, that [Jesus] went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. – Luke 6:12
Many times in the New Testament we find Jesus and His disciples going “into a mountain” to pray. The Gospels may have been written in the Greek language but their cultural context was the Hebraic world. To ascend in the Greek mindset was to scale the outside of. But to a Hebraic understanding it was to ascend into a reality, in this case a place of spiritual government.
Mountains in Scripture often speak of places of governmental authority. There is a mountain of God in the realm of His Kingdom that is the place where His government rests. The reality of this mountain is made real inside of our lives. Remember Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is within us. (See Lk 17:21).
Exercising spiritual government in the mountain of God has everything to do with rest.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11
When the Bible talks about rest, it is not admonishing us to get more sleep. Rest is a place from which we can bring the government of God’s kingdom to influence and change the situations around us.
Two different words for rest are used in this Hebrews passage. The first word for rest used here is sabbaton and means a “ceasing of work” or a “stopping of activity in mid action.” It comes from the Hebrew word shabbat from which we get our word Sabbath.
But every other time the word rest is used in this passage, it is the word katapauo. Katapauo means to settle down, literally to colonize or to create a place for a government to rest. Wow. Now that offers a slightly new perspective.
Outside of the book of Hebrews it is only used one other time in the New Testament.
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
What house will you build for Me? says the LORD,
Or what is the place of My rest?”
For years, I found Hebrews 4:9-11 perplexing . The whole “labor to enter rest” part had me stumped. I filed it away as one of those odd kingdom paradoxes, right along with high being low and down being up. It wasn’t until after I began to realize rest was more than a ceasing from something that any of it made sense.
We first enter into the sabbaton rest of God, the place where we cease from our own works so that He can establish His works in our lives. In other words, for us to step into the reality of what Jesus has already done for us on the cross, we must stop trying to do it for ourselves.
But the place of rest we labor to enter into is the place where His government is established inside of us, where His kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven first of all in us. Then, when His kingdom rests in us, its supernatural reality breaks forth through us almost effortlessly as we keep our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus.
True kingdom transformation must always come from the inside out. So what does all this mean for cultural mountains?
One day I had a vision of a common diagram I have seen others teach on when they share about the 7 mountains. In this vision, I also saw the mountain of God’s spiritual government that is established inside of us and then released through us, as we grow in intimacy with Him and as we serve the world around us in His love. The mountain of God exponentially grew in size until it flipped all the other mountains of culture upside down (see diagram below).
What if true reformation comes when the mountain of God in us manifests through us and flips the mountains of society around us upside down with His love and goodness? What if being a successful social influencer has little to nothing to do where we are “positioned” on the cultural mountain at all, but everything to do with what we have allowed God to build inside of us?
What if the way we take a mountain (or a nation for that matter) is found in the Kingdom realm of God’s Spirit that comes as we ascend into His mountain that supersedes all other mountains (cultural or otherwise)? What if genuine change comes only from the place of rest where we begin to operate in true spiritual government that is birthed in the place of intimacy with Him and from the process of being transfigured to become like Him? What if it is more about holding the sphere God has asked us to serve in our hearts before Him in prayer, than it is in being in charge or in control?
Until we live and serve in love, we have no real platform to speak or manifest change from regardless of what our position is. What if the mountain we are to ascend is spiritual and in this upside down kingdom we walk in, we are actually to go to the lowest place (which is really the highest place) and from there serve and release His light?
Maybe we are to take a mountain by diving lower in the natural even as we move higher in the spirit. Isn’t that kind of what Jesus did? He is after all a pretty good model 😉 If God promotes us awesome. But sometimes the promotions of heaven look nothing like the promotions of earth. The cross was a promotion.
So yes, let’s climb the mountain! Let’s just make sure we are focusing on climbing the right one. Because if we get that part right, everything else will follow.