While We Walk The Pilgrim Pathway

The people of God are called by many names in Scripture: saints, disciples, priests, and kings. But the same Bible uses another word to describe God’s children: pilgrim. It’s not one we use much to describe ourselves, perhaps because we are uncomfortable with the concept behind it. The fact is, you can’t be a saint, disciple, priest, or king without a willingness to become a sojourner, stranger, foreigner, a pilgrim.

We certainly have no trouble thinking of Abraham that way, a man who left his home not knowing where God was going to take him. His whole life was a pilgrimage, dwelling in tents as an alien in the very land that was promised to him. Concerning Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the writer of Hebrews says, “all these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). They never saw the fulfillment of the covenant, the mystery unfolded, the big picture revealed, but still they were pilgrims. How much more ought we, recipients of better promises, under a better covenant, be willing to be sojourners in this land because we know we’re going to a better country?

I offer these suggestions to help us stay on the pilgrim’s pathway:

Find Where You Fit In: -- It is just part of our nature to want to fit in, to blend in with our culture. No one wants to be a misfit, much less stay one. But when you lose your identity as a pilgrim, you lose your identity as a Christian. The commonality behind the words sojourner, stranger, alien and pilgrim is the fact that Christians don’t fit in where they live. We have no business trying to belong in a world that is no tour home. (My wife was a lover of birdhouses, she had many of them sitting in different places, in our house, especially in the living room. Among the many houses was one that was just a thick board cut in the shape of a birdhouse with a hole for the birds to fly into, but the saying on the front was “for birds just passing through”. This reminds me of our state as Christians upon this earth, we are just passing through, we are pilgrims on a journey, we are traveling on the earth but our true home is in heaven, we are called citizens of the kingdom of God, JWS).

You’re either apart from the world or you’re a part of it. In making your choice, remember that Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Where is your citizenship? Finding where you fit involves finding where you don’t fit.

Don’t Be Afraid To Act Like A Foreigner, A Pilgrim: -- People who dress differently, talk differently, and act differently and act differently are going to be treated differently. Peter addressed the First Century Christians as “aliens and strangers” to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles” (1 Pet. 2:11,12). His solution was for them to keep doing what they’d been doing, to show the world where they belonged.

You prepare for the next world by living well in this world. Fleshly lusts have no place in the spiritual person, a pilgrim whose mind is somewhere else. Talking like a foreigner is no embarrassment to him whose true citizenship is in heaven. Dressing like a foreigner is no problem for a young lady who covets no attention for herself but wants peoples’ eyes to be focused on her Master in heaven. “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb. 11:16). Let us, then, not be ashamed to be called His pilgrims.

Keep Looking For The City: Whose Builder And Maker Is God: -- The pilgrim’s journey will eventually come to an end. Those who spent their whole lives wandering, dwelling as strangers and pilgrims, will finally reach their home and have a city to call their own. It is the city which has foundations that Abraham was looking for (Heb. 11:10), the inheritance Peter describes as being reserved in heaven for us (1 Pet. 1:4), the abode that John says is made ready as a bride adorn-ed for her husband (Rev. 21:2).

Heaven is a place, where the misfits, the pilgrims on the earth, will fit in and belong. That’s because everyone will look like, talk like, and be like Christ Who brought them safely from the earth to the prepared city. (John 14:1-6).

So, stay on the pathway, pilgrim. For traveling days are few for us upon this earth. Let us redeem the time because the few days are evil. -- Adapted from an article by Bubba Garner via Gospel Power, Vol. 13, No. 24, June 11, 2006.

Back to Bulletin Fodder