A Christian Tourist or Jesus Loving Explorer…Which Are You?

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A Christian Tourist or Jesus Loving Explorer…Which Are You?

You don’t have to live long before you realize that there’re some parts of our lives that can’t be orchestrated or choreographed in advance. Our job is to do our best to respond properly. Some people prefer a reality filled with unknowns and daily challenges that test their wits.   But I can’t say those kinds of people hold the majority position. My observation is that most of us would prefer to wield as much control over what’s coming next. This would include choosing plans and paths that appear the safest. For the record, predictable and controlled plans tend to consistently appear safer.   Sometimes it’s our personality that demands taking the road most predictable. We’re hardwired to need to know what’s next and are extremely uncomfortable otherwise. Sometimes it’s our circumstances that incline us to take the path of least resistance. Between our children and our bigger responsibilities, a life of minimal risk simply sounds wise.   However, when this is the attitude we take towards our spiritual life, we may not realize that we’re inviting mediocrity on board and possibly relegating the Holy Spirit to the back of the bus. Let me explain by using a recent trip Darcy and I took to New York City.   If big city life wasn’t a part of your up-bringing (as is both Darcy’s and my case), and you happened to be spending a week in the Rome of the modern world, then most people would think that the smartest and safest way to spend a week in NYC is to plan each day in advance and carry out those plans in the most non-threatening way.   What this normally looks like is using taxis (or contracting a driver) to move about the city, having specific sites you want to see each day, and preferably hiring a tour guide or their equivalent to not only make you feel at home at these different sites, but also remove the fears and unknowns from these places. A city like New York isn’t very threatening when someone who knows where they’re going is driving you to your destination and someone else is running interference for you once you’re there. Life at street level, within the subway system, and in the midst of the crowd at the various sites can be intimidating—especially if you’ve never lived in a big city. Throw in the backdrop of night, and it’s even more important to most people to take the safe and predictable route.   Although this is the way many people go about it, it’s not the plan that typically yields the richest reward for a visit to a city as spectacular as New York. Which is why we chose our first day and last day (Sundays) to go the safe, predictable route (taxis and specific time sensitive destinations—which happened to be church services), and used the six days in between to turn our trip into a full scale adventure. We had tickets to a Broadway show one evening and tickets to the 9-11 memorial one morning. Other than that, our plans went something like: “Let’s go down to the financial district today and figure out what that’s all about. Tomorrow, let’s head up to Central Park and hang out there for a while and then head down 5th Avenue. Maybe the next day we can see what the Village and SoHo are all about and then find a place to have dinner in Little Italy.” We got out the little maps our hotel provided and figured out the subways and foot routes we needed to take to get to where we had in mind. Meanwhile we carried with us the Bible of city explorers: Fodor’s.   As we look back on our trip, we KNOW that we could never have seen as many of the unexpected but fascinating places we experienced had we been following a safe, but cast-in-stone, plan. We wouldn’t have gathered the deeper insights through exploration had we been dependent on pre-digested tour guide’s speeches. Most importantly, we wouldn’t have been able to experience the passion, intrigue, and gritty wonder of a city like New York had we not lived each day out within its masses—at street level—depending on our wits to get us though. We had a blast!   There’s a safe way to carry on our Christian life. It starts with leaning heavily on the professionals at church each Sunday. It demands that we steer clear of the shadows during the week and definitely avoid using any spiritually subterranean means of travel that has us living out our Christian life in close proximity to strangers that might not share our spiritual values. Safe church services, safe pre-digested Bible studies, and staying within the perimeter of a circle of safe Christian friends is so much more appealing. But, we don’t need the Holy Spirit to actually show up when we choose this plan.   All this said, there’s something to be said for living at least part of our weekly spiritual life where all we have is the Fodor’s of Christian Explorers—the Bible and spiritual wits that are guided by the Holy Spirit. There’s something to be said for families that operate this way too. It’s the difference between being a Christian tourist or being a God-led explorer at the mercy of the power and presence of Jesus working from the inside out. One keeps you safe but gives you a very limited peek at the wonder and grandeur of God. The other inclines you towards much greater spiritual strength and guarantees you a front row seat to God’s majesty.    

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