Our associate pastor, Terry Dorey, started a message series about following Christ. He said, “to be a Christian you need to see Jesus’ uniqueness and be active in following Him.” This made a lot of sense to me and he had a a number of good points to back it up. The part that really got to me was the idea of the contrast between a traveler & a tourist and correspondingly the contrast between a disciple & a believer.
- Traveler: someone who travails, has a purpose in their travels
- Tourist: someone who goes around in circles, a consumer
- Disciple:someone who follow Christ and brings others to Christ
- Believer: someone who believes
Are we following hard after Christ? Following = change
More from Mark Buchanan from his book, Your Church Is Too Safe: Why Following Christ Turns the World Upside-Down
Historian Daniel Boorstin documents a momentous shift that occurred in North America in the nineteenth century: we stopped calling people who went on trips travelers and started calling them tourists.
Traveler literally means “one who travails.” He labors, suffers, endures. A traveler—a travailer—gets impregnated with a new and strange reality, grows huge and awkward trying to carry it, and finally, in agony, births something new and beautiful. To get there, he immerses himself in a culture, learns the language and customs, lives with the locals, imitates the dress, eats what’s set before him. He takes risks, some enormous, and makes sacrifices, some extravagant. He has tight scrapes and narrow escapes. He is gone a long time. If ever he returns, he returns forever altered…
A tourist, not so. Tourist means, literally, “one who goes in circles.” He’s just taking an exotic detour home. He’s only passing through, sampling wares, acquiring souvenirs. He tastes more than eats what’s put before him. He retreats each night to what’s safe and familiar. He picks up a word here, a phrase there, but the language, and the world it’s embedded in, remains opaque and cryptic, and vaguely menacing. He spectates and consumes. He returns to where he’s come from with an album of photos, a few mementos, a cheap hat. He’s happy to be back. He declares there’s no place like home.
We’ve made a similar shift in the church. At some point we stopped calling Christians disciples and started calling them believers. A disciple is one who follows and imitates Jesus. She loses her life in order to find it. She steeps in the language and culture of Christ until his Word and his world reshape hers, redefine her, change inside out how she sees and thinks and dreams and, finally, lives…
A believer, not so. She holds certain beliefs, but how deep down these go depends on the weather or her mood. She can get defensive, sometimes bristlingly so, about her beliefs, but in her honest moments she wonders why they’ve made such scant difference…
You can’t be a disciple without being a believer. But—here’s the rub—you can be a believer and not a disciple. You can say all the right things, think all the right things, believe all the right things, do all the right things, and still not follow and imitate Jesus.
@dancathy: The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. G. K. Chesterton. Let’s be travelers with wide, opportunistic eyes.
The kingdom of God is made up of travailers, but our churches are largely populated with tourists. The kingdom is full of disciples, but our churches are filled with believers.