Laboring for Christ in Obscurity: Reflections on “The Alpinist”

Laboring for Christ in Obscurity: Reflections on “The Alpinist”

At one point in the documentary, Marc-Andre looks up at this massive mountain covered with snow and says, “One of the coolest feelings that a human can experience is to feel so small in a world that’s so big.” When we seek glory for ourselves it crushes our ability to wonder and marvel because we make ourselves big and the world so small. We forget that we are finite and that there is the Creator who fashioned this world as an outpouring of his love and creative perfection. So how do we calibrate to living for the glory of God again, even if no one sees our labors except God? We could try really hard, but we all know that doesn’t last too long. We could still seek the glory but pretend to be humble, all the while dying inside. Or, we could look to the one who saw our glory-hunger and came down to save us from it.

If you could accomplish great things for the glory of God, but no one except God and you would know, would you still put in all the work necessary to accomplish those things? This is a question I have asked myself a million times and found myself asking it again this week. A while back, a friend recommended a documentary on Netflix called The Alpinist. Spoiler alert: The Alpinist is about a young man named Marc-Andre Leclerc. Leclerc is portrayed as one of the world’s best solo rock climbers (meaning no ropes) in a world that most people don’t know about. 

To be a solo climber is to traverse some of the earth’s most dangerous mountains without the safety of a rope, which would lead any sane spectator to give praise to the accomplishments of these brave men and women. Leclerc, though, has a different definition of what “solo” means. The makers of the documentary find themselves frustrated with Marc-Andre because he would leave the country and go climb some of the most difficult mountains in the world without telling them. In short, they couldn’t swallow the fact that Leclerc was willing to climb these massive walls without getting the credit they believed he deserved. He finally calls them and explains that it’s not truly a solo climb if others are there filming.

Am I Willing to Put in the Labor to Glorify Jesus with My Life Even If No One Sees?

As enjoyable as the documentary is to watch because of Leclerc’s passion, his pure love for climbing, and his resistance to doing things for a world obsessed with catching every moment (because “if you don’t post it on social media, did it even happen?”) I found myself asking the question, “Am I willing to put in the labor to glorify Jesus with my life even if no one sees?” The truth is, this has been an ongoing war for me for years. As ugly as it may sound, I like to hear that I’m doing a good job, and it’s often hard to give yourself to something for years when there are no pats on the back to follow.

Years ago, the Lord used a verse to confront my desire for self-glory. Jesus, confronting the Pharisees, says to them one day,

“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44)

All of us were created to glorify God, but our sin causes us to pervert it and seek glory for ourselves. I know this is a battle that consistently wages a war against the Spirit inside me.

When We Seek Glory for Ourselves, We Make Ourselves Big and the World So Small

What I found as I watched and listened to Leclerc was my own desire to enjoy God, to labor for him, and to give him all the glory, even if no one is watching.

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