Blended Not Shaken Ministries and Publications

Christian step/single parent and blended families ministry.

Thoughts on being a pilgrim in attitude and action.

“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. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed, if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had the opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

The Christian life has often been defined as a pilgrimage, a series of mountain highs and valley lows while lessons are learned on the way towards our gradual transformation in Christ’s likeness as we head to the Celestial city. And true Christians know that this world is not our home and with each passing day are feeling more like strangers in it. While Christians know this to be true, our attitude and actions do not always mirror this knowledge.

This blog will attempt to highlight the differences between a settler and a pilgrim, drawing on material read and biblical examples studied with the hope that Christians can truly live as a pilgrim in attitude and action, all for the glory of God.

Pilgrims reject worldliness

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

We know God is Love. We are told by the world that ‘Love is Love’ and that we should embrace any definition of the word. But John reminds us, “Do NOT love” the world. What does this mean? Aren’t we called to love? If we continue reading the scripture from 1 John 2, it goes on.. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. Putting riches before God is the lust of the eyes (Materialism or coveting). A desire to be famous is the pride of life. Lust of the flesh refers to sexual pleasure out of the confines of marriage. Christians are called to hate that which is not of God. That doesn’t mean we are hateful bigots. It means we are obedient pilgrims who are being controlled by the Spirit of God not the spirit of this world.

The best biblical example would be of Abraham and Lot. Abraham was known as ‘the friend of God.’ As a friend of God, you believe Him and obey Him. Friends of God share in His love and fellowship and know His will. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, by contrast, was a friend of the world. While Abraham was a pilgrim and stranger, only passing through this world, Lot had abandoned his tent and settled down in Sodom. Lot looked towards Sodom and began to walk by sight. Then he moved his tent near Sodom and finally moved into Sodom (Read Genesis13). Lot’s location at the gate indicates that he was a man of some authority. There are times God’s people are directed to worldly places to fulfil God’s purposes. This wasn’t one of those cases. ‘Worldliness is not a matter of physical geography but of heart attitude says W.W. Wiersbe. Lot’s heart was in Sodom long before his body arrived there.’ We know Lot’s story. His end is not pretty. His own daughters gave birth to his sons whose descendants would be enemies of the Jewish nation. Lot was conformed to this world. All that he lived for went up in smoke and was buried near the Dead Sea. Lot is a warning to all Christians not to love the world, be friends with the world or be stained by the world because you reap what you sow.

Pilgrims travel light

“How hard is it for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mark 10:23

The rich young ruler is actually the ‘poor young ruler’ because, as every dead person has discovered, you cannot take anything with you when you pass through this life into the next. Your wealth means nothing and counts for nothing in eternity if it hasn’t been used rightfully. True pilgrims know to travel light. They see everything as a gracious gift from God to be used for His glory and the good of others. They are not burdened by ‘things’. They love people and use things rather than loving things and using people.

We are reminded to ..“strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us..” (Hebrews 12:1)

John Bunyan’s classic “Pilgrim’s Progress” is a delightful read which is so relatable to Christians everywhere. There is a section where Christian and Hopeful meets Crafty, Mr Earthy, Money Love and SaveAll in their journey to the Delectable Mountains and they are having a conversation about money, wealth and their belief in God’s desire we be rich. Christian counters their arguments by citing Judas and Ananias and Sapphira as examples of the devil using their greed which caused their demise. Christian and Hopeful then meet Demas who shows them a silver mine which, by ‘careful effort’ can make one rich. Christian and Hopeful do not fall for the temptation but later we read..

‘By this time Crafty and his friends arrived on the hill, and at the first invitation from Demas, they went over to view the silver mine. But whether they went too close and fell in or went down into the mine to dig silver and suffocated in the gas, I do not know, but this I observed, that they were never seen again on the road.” (Pilgrims Progress, page 109)

Pilgrims rely on promises

Christians who walk by faith, live on promises not on explanations says my favourite Bible commentator, Warren Wiersbe. A Biblical example of this is found in the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt and their wilderness wanderings as opposed to their leader Moses.

Pilgrims know that trials will come. In such trials we learn new lessons and fight new battles. The Lord tests us to encourage spiritual growth and maturity but the Devil tempts us to bring out the worst in us and bring us spiritual immaturity. The attitude we take will determine which direction life will go. If we trust and obey, we will pass the test and grow, but if in unbelief we disobey and complain, we will fail the test and remain immature. Unlike the Jews, who constantly complained and quickly forgot all the Lord had done for them, true Pilgrims don’t ask Why God, but rather rely on God’s promises. Pilgrims also know that they are to trust God to supply their needs and obey God’s instructions, remembering the lessons He teaches you along your journey.

When by faith we walk with the Lord, successful pilgrims can say with Moses, “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Pilgrims make progress

Further to the last point, Pilgrims are constantly on the move. They wait on the Lord for His leading and act by faith on His promptings. But true pilgrims don’t lay dormant. It’s been said that Christians are either growing or dying in maturity. If you are or desire to be a maturing Christian, you will see, if only by small degrees, the work of the Holy Spirit in you, conforming you into the image of Jesus. You will also become more acutely aware of your own sinfulness and a growing desire to be “absent from the body but be present with the Lord” and a regular cry from your lips, “even so, come Lord Jesus.” Both your attitude and actions will more and more image the Lord Jesus.

Jacob is a good example of a pilgrim. While he made many mistakes, he learned many lessons and was a pilgrim to the very end. As his long, eventful life drew to a close and after blessing all his sons, he held in his hand as he breathed his last, as he had done at the beginning of his pilgrimage, his staff, the symbol of his life as a pilgrim.

Again, to quote Wiersbe..

‘A vagabond has no home; a fugitive is running from home; a stranger is away from home; but a pilgrim is heading home.‘ The Patriarchs confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They had their eyes on the future, the glorious city that God was preparing for them and they passed that heavenly vision onto their descendants. If you feel like a stranger here, you are not alone and this is to be expected. You are not meant to settle here. Heaven is your home.

Martin Luther says it best…

‘This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness; not health but healing; not being but becoming; not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.’

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