Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Approaching God as Pilgrims and Disciples Rather than Tourists

I've been wanting to read "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction" by Eugene Peterson for a while now.  Today I finally picked it up and started, and only two pages into the first chapter I have something I want to share.  I hope you enjoy this analogy as much as I do; may it encourage you to a life of faith and love for God.

There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.
Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset.  Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure.
Everyone is in a hurry.  The persons whom I lead in worship, among whom I counsel, visit, pray, preach and teach, want shortcuts.  They want me to help them fill out the form that will get them instant credit (in eternity).  They are impatient for results.  They have adopted the lifestyle of a tourist and only want the high points.  But a pastor is not a tour guide!
For recognizing and resisting the stream of the world's ways there are two biblical designations for people of faith that are extremely useful: disciple and pilgrim.  Disciple says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ.  We are in a growing-learning relationship, always.  A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman.  We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith.
Pilgrim tells us we are people who spend our lives going someplace, going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way, Jesus Christ.  We realize that "this world is not my home" and set out for "the Father's house."  Abraham, who "went out," is our archetype.  Jesus, answering Thomas's question "Master, we have no idea where you're going.  How do you expect us to know the road?"  gives us directions: "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life.  No one gets to the Father apart from me" (Jn 14:5-6).  The letter to the Hebrews defines our program: "Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we'd better get on with it.  Strip down, start running - and never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in"  (Heb 12:1-2)

May we not approach religion as tourists, looking to see the sites for a day here, a month there, in between the regular duties and responsibilities of life.  Rather, may our religion, our experience of God, be our life; may it inform everything we do, say, and think.  Let's not give God a day to transform us, let's give him our lives.

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