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Christopher E.

Pilgrim or Fugitive?

I am no stranger to change. As part of my parents’ journey I moved 15 times before high school. As an adult, with a family of my own, we moved 20 times in my first 22 years of marriage. With so many moves, I seldom had a chance to deeply invest in any community. And, while my experience might be a bit extreme, it is not that different from the way most people live today. We bounce from job to job. We have little sense of home. We are more comfortable as part of the global network than we are rooted in our local community.

One might think that living this way provides a great platform for being a part of the Great Commission. Are we not to live the pilgrim lifestyle? We travel light. Our mind is on the journey. We are tough and flexible. We are ever sensitive to whether or not our stuff has become more valuable to us than our destination.

But, at my age, having moved 37 times, I am wondering if there isn’t something more to being missional. All that moving around also meant that my roots were ripped from the ground over and over, just when they began to feel the moist soil. There is a sense in which I fear the commitment and responsibility that comes with sticking around and going deep.

For me, it is easier to have friends on Facebook than in my home. It is easier to attend church than to become part of one. It is easier to visit a place that is foreign to me than to live there. It is easier to provide a helpful service than take responsibility. In that sense, I feel that while I might see myself as a pilgrim, I am really just a fugitive.

Today, it is rare to find people willing to go someplace on mission and live there, learn the language, make lifelong friends, and become part of the community. To many, doing global missions means merely visiting. However, incarnational ministry is a journey to the heart.

Stay. Put down roots. Live with and among. Commit. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

This was originally published in The Journey devotional. Brian Deringer serves with MTW as the director of Member Care and Development. 

Brian Deringer, Reflection Sep 14, 2017
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