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TONY ELDER: If we work together, we can aspire to greater spiritual heights

Did you hear about the fight that broke out on Mount Everest a couple of weeks ago?

When you think about climbers trying to reach the peak of that famous mountain, you think about a group of people focused on one particular goal. In order to achieve that lofty goal, it usually takes teamwork.

People on such an expedition have to work together as they battle the frigid temperatures, strong winds, the effects of high altitude, and their own inner struggles over giving up. They can't afford to start fighting each other or it will keep them from reaching that summit for which they are aiming.

However, on this particular occasion that unity of purpose was disrupted by a conflict between three European climbers and their guides -- the Sherpa, a people who are native to the area. It seems that the guides had instructed the climbers to wait while they laid down some ropes, but those climbers went ahead anyway. As they did, they knocked some ice down on the Sherpa.

Reportedly, a fight ensued, including punches, kicks, and rock-throwing. Supposedly there were even threats made that the climbers would be killed if they didn't leave.

The last I heard there were still debates going on as to who was primarily responsible for the conflict -- the climbers or the Sherpa. But whoever was at fault, it certainly disrupted the unity and teamwork normally associated with such an expedition.

As believers in Christ we're on our own adventurous expedition. We're constantly journeying toward greater spiritual heights, including the Everest of Christlikeness and ultimately heaven itself.

We've got our enemies and obstacles to battle as well. We have to climb in the frigid spiritual atmosphere of a society that is turning away from God. We've got a strong wind of opposition blowing against us, trying to hinder us from being faithful followers of the Lord.

Additionally, the enemy of our souls will tempt us along the way, doing everything he can to hinder our journey upward.

We also have our own inward battles to fight. We must guard our hearts and desires from leading us off in wrong directions. We need to keep our eyes focused on the Lord and His promises so that we don't get discouraged and give up.

In this journey, we need a similar spirit of unity and single-minded purpose with other believers. We need to work together, help each other, support one another, and stand together against those mutual enemies in order to reach the spiritual summit for which we're aiming.

One of the phrases we find several times in reference to the believers in the book of Acts is that they were "in one accord" (Acts 1:14; 2:1; 4:24). Not only were they physically together in one place, but they were united in purpose -- praying for the same thing and seeking a common goal.

In such an atmosphere of spiritual unity, God did some marvelous things in the life of the Church.

I believe God can still do great things today, both in the individual lives of His followers and in His Church as a whole. But we need to work together and pray together in order to reach those heights to which God wants to take us.

It's a shame when an expedition toward a mountaintop allows infighting to hinder it from reaching its goal.

As believers, we've got even greater heights to aspire to than Everest. Our Guide is well able to get us there. Let's seek to be "in one accord" so that we all can complete our journey to the summit.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.