January 7, 2016
As Christians, we are on a journey to higher ground. God is calling us to come up higher. The old hymn, “I’m Pressing on the Upward Way,” is about that journey:
I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I onward bound, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
When you are climbing a mountain, you must keep your goal in mind and head for the highest point around. It may be the highest point in the state; it may be the highest point in the country; or it may be the highest point in the world. In our case, we are headed for the highest point in the universe. God’s ideal for us is spoken of in the book Education as being “higher than the highest human thought can reach . . . Godliness—godlikeness—is the goal to be reached” (Education, p. 18).
What does it mean to be like God? In Genesis it is clear that we were created in God’s image, which means that in the beginning we were indeed godlike. Following Adam and Eve’s bad decision, we have continued to make poor choices that have resulted in going lower and lower. “For four thousand years the race had been decreasing in physical strength, in mental power, and in moral worth; and Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depths of his degradation” (The Desire of Ages, p. 117).
Interestingly, we have been given the opportunity not only to regain our first estate, but to end up at a place higher than where we started. Christ’s Object Lessons, page 163, states:
The work of redemption involves consequences of which it is difficult for man to have any conception. ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him’ (1 Cor. 2:9)… Great as is the shame and degradation through sin, even greater will be the honor and exaltation through redeeming love. To human beings striving for conformity to the divine image there is imparted an outlay of heaven’s treasure, an excellency of power, that will place them higher than even the angels who have never fallen.
Where are we today? The world is quickly reaching another low point in history. But we have the privilege, opportunity, even responsibility, to reach up and go higher and still higher. But how do we do that? Is it the strongest men or only the most athletic that have this opportunity? In God’s system there seems to be something very different about how to get higher. The world says to fight your way to the top. Climb over others. Go for the gold. Compete. Win at all costs. God, on the other hand, says: “But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room” (Luke 14:10, KJV). He says: “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11, KJV). He tells us to follow His example: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
Are we certain that we really want to come up higher? Such a journey requires our total commitment. Higher ground. Where is it? “When at the foot of the cross the sinner looks up to the One who died to save him, he may rejoice with fullness of joy; for his sins are pardoned. Kneeling in faith at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain” (Our Father Cares, p. 70).
Higher ground. Get down at the foot of the Cross and look up to your Savior. Imitate Him. Become like Him by following the path of self-sacrifice that leads to higher ground.