Tourist, Traveller, Pilgrim or Pioneer
Articles - Christian Growth
by Lyn Packer
A few years ago I read the book "Dangerous Wonder"by Michael Yaconelli. I was clearing out a folder the other day and found these notes I had made regarding the book. I though you might be interested in reading them.
The book asks – Are we tourist or traveller; traveller or pilgrim; pilgrim or pioneer? That got me thinking – what were the differences between them? Here are some of my thoughts.
Tourist – Let me see the sights, the tidy version, experience it from the outer edge but never really enter into it.
Traveller – I'll go a little off the beaten path, experience a touch of the real thing but won't linger, I'll move on before my worship demands anything of me.
Pilgrim - I may be touched by a religious experience and I'll live off that one experience, revisiting it in my mind, but may or may not go there again.
Pioneer - I'll be one who explores the country thoroughly, experiencing it, settling it and making it habitable for others, yet constantly taking new ground. I'll live the adventure while others watch!
Do we travel the well worn tourist circuit of Worship and Christianity, doing and going where the tourist guides lead us or do we travel the less travelled roads; or even more daringly, the unknown, uncharted frontiers with God alone as our guide?
Who are the tourist guides in our life? They can be our worship leaders, pastors, friends, our fear of what others may think, our own insecurities etc. They are the ones who urge us to play it safe, to be the same as all the others, to not rock the boat by trying to step out of it.
As a traveller we dip our toes in, look into things but never really get immersed in the river of God's goodness and grace or allow for anything too radical to happen to us. We don't go too far off the tourist circuit but experience just enough to convince ourselves that we have seen and experienced the real thing.
As a Pilgrim we tend to live off one or more experiences that we somehow elevate to become the high point of our walk. We look back to those experiences, living in the past. In our mind we make them something very special, all the time not realising that we can walk in radical experience of God and His kingdom every day or not even really wanting to. We have done our bit, we made the journey, that's all that's required - now we live off that.
A Pioneer doesn't settle for the status quo, they push the boundaries, allowing personal growth and challenges to take place but not allowing those challenges to determine their boundaries. They are not content to spend or waste what they experience just on themselves. True pioneers always break new ground - not just for themselves, but with the knowledge that others will come after them. They prepare the ground for the coming generations.
The devil would have us to be content with any of the first three types of traveller, but God calls us to not settle for the lesser but to continually push back the boundaries, taking new ground, experiencing more of Him and His wonderful Kingdom and releasing it into this world. The devil is sneaky. He moves the boundary stones in around our lives, saying, "These are the boundaries. You can go this far but no further." And if we are not clued up we will think the placement of those boundary stones are God's boundaries for us - that He means for us to be little people, with little thoughts, little hopes and dreams, little land, hemmed in, pressed down and bowed over in servitude.
Are you a tourist, a traveller, a pilgrim or a pioneer? Where are the boundaries placed in your walk, what do they allow you to experience? How much of the Kingdom of God are you willing to explore and break open for those who follow you? We all have followers - those who look at our life and think it is the real thing, the real representation of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Let's push in to make our lives true representations of the Kingdom. Let's take new ground and call others to experience it with us.