“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,

and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54: 10

Mountains tend to dominate the landscape when they are present; if in the distance, they frame the skyline and create the backdrop for everything else; and if you are in them, the mountains surround and loom over your entire immediate world. My sense of mountains is that of permanence, of a form of long-term existence; the expression “older than the hills” comes to mind. Yet they have changed. They can be diminished by forces of nature and by the efforts of people, and the hand of God has absolute control over them.

Perhaps Isaiah used mountains as a symbol here because love among humans can be such a troubled, fragile, and perishable thing, and we tend to impose the realities of our experience, especially the painful realities, onto everything. We are hurt in a love relationship; then, another one proves to be painful, and we start to anticipate and to expect the pain thereafter. When love fails, it truly feels as if a mountain has fallen on us. The peace is crushed out of our hearts by the force and the weight of the collapse of the relationship.

God’s love has been a constant for me; no matter what others may have done and regardless of how badly I have behaved, God has continued to love me, and He has constantly reminded me of that fact. He stays with me through it all. When my eyes can see nothing except for the rocks and the boulders that are covering me, God’s hands are already working to clear a passage for me to breath; then, He lifts the weight off of my head and my shoulders, and finally, He clears all of the debris from around me and lifts me back onto my feet. The Lord restores my life.

This is also what He desires for us to do with each other; God wants each of us to be committed lovers of people. He wants us to trust Him and to believe in His love for us and for everyone else, too. Then, Christ wants us to carry the peace that He has planted in our hearts into our relational lives. In this way we will demonstrate Christ’s sacrificial love to all. When we come upon a scene where someone is trapped beneath a mountain slide of guilt, pain, and loss, Christ wants to help us lift the boulders off of that person’s heart. Christ is asking, “Do you know someone who needs you to bring to him or her the peace and reassurance of the imperishable nature of the love of Christ today?”

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 13: 11

 

Here is a statement about family. The idea that life is something to rejoice in and over is closely related to what it means to dwell in the presence of Christ while living among other people. In a gathering of followers of Christ, we will find all sorts of personalities and perspectives on what it means to live properly and well. It is made even more challenging by the fact that we will all be in various states of change, too, for Christ continually works in His people to transform us into people who are more and more like the person that He desires for us to be. This creates a need on each of our parts to continue to work at knowing others well while we also remain open and seek out others in order to reveal the work that the Lord is about in us.

 

When you think about it, the church is truly a busy family. It is comprised of flawed and broken people who are following Christ into engagement with the world while they are also seeking to know God in a deeper and more intimate manner so that His Spirit can continue to reform and remold us into individuals who are more and more righteous while preparing and equipping us to perform the work that is needful for God’s kingdom. This rush of words requires a deep breath to speak out, and that is something like the breathless pace of life that can seem to overtake the body of Christ. It is for this reason and because of the relentless demands that our world places upon us that we need the support and the comfort of this same body. Herein we can find rest, refreshment, and the sort of fellowship that leads to restoration and revitalization.

 

The reason for our celebration, for our rejoicing, is Christ, and this spirit of joy is present in our fellowship because of the way that our Lord leads us to love and to care for each other. The fellowship of faith is where we can be real and honest with each other, for we are allowed to express our hearts and engage our minds together in this setting. As we come together, whether in small or in great numbers, we are able to bring our differences in all areas of thought and action together and to share them for the sake of understanding, use them in complementary manners in order to increase our strength, and yield our perspectives to those of others when that is the way to live in peace and to demonstrate Christ’s love to our world. The body of Christ should not be homogenous but it should be peaceful. This family will contain disagreements and contentions, but it can engage them and work through them to the glory of our singular Lord and Savior. As we turn our eyes toward Christ, we are drawn together in our common thread of faith and the differences that we express can become a part of our cause for rejoicing.