Thursday, April 26, 2007

Disciples on a Pilgrimage

William Lane in his book Hebrews: A Call to Commitment reminds us that the disciple of Jesus is a pilgrim in this world. He writes; “In the same intense way that the patriarchs sought a homeland (Hebrews 11:14), Christians seek the City which is to come (Hebrews 13:14). The people of God are called to be a pilgrim people" (page 161).

I want to make two observations about what it means for us to be a pilgrim people. First it means that we have our eyes set on a destination. Abraham may not have known where he was going, but he trusted God to lead him. We may not know what the climax of eternity will be like, but we trust God to get us there. But do we really believe that God has a better place in store for us?

To be honest with you I think one of the weaknesses of the Church in Western society has been our reluctance to speak and teach about a final destination: heaven or hell. Most of our teachings are concerned with the here and now, about making the most of the life God has given us. While we need to be concerned with how we live and being good stewards of all God has given to us being a follower of Jesus isn’t about getting our best life now. The testimony of the Bible seems to tell us the life is a struggle and that it is hard. Our hope shouldn’t be the best life we can imagine, but the life God has prepared for us to enjoy. Being a pilgrim means that our hope isn’t set in making the most of the American Dream, but in living real life in Heaven.

The second observation is that pilgrims travel lightly. They need to because they are constantly on the move. The temptation that we have to fight is the temptation to set down our roots in this world because we have grown too attached to things and pleasures we have found here. The rich young man we read about in the Gospels couldn’t follow Jesus because he was too attached to his wealth. I wonder how many of us have missed following Jesus because we were too attached to our jobs, homes, hobbies, and friends. Rather than following Jesus into the unknown of the call of ministry (in whatever shape that might be) we stayed with what we were familiar with. The more we have to lose the more unwillingly we will be to take risks.

The way of the pilgrim is learn to trust God as He leads us to that great final destination. How can we trust Him if we put limits on how far we will go? How can we learn that God is the provider if we say that we will only go if we are guaranteed a certain amount of money? How can we learn how God comforts if we do not risk losing what is important to us? When we become too attached to the things of this world: from good things like friends and family to sinful things like drugs and pornography, we establish limits to just how far we will go in following Jesus. Earthly attachment hinders the disciple of Jesus on his/her pilgrimage through this world.

The disciple of Jesus is on a pilgrimage through this world. On this journey the disciple learns how to love and trust God. It is through this process that we are restored into the people God created us to be. When we arrive at that final destination we can finally discover what it really means to live. We can truly live the life God intended for us to live.

1 comment:

The Blind Sage said...

Excellent post!

Stop by the King's Abbey sometime, and we'll share a pint and ponder things divine.

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