Travel! Please, travel. (Pt. 1)

 

Pastors frequently tell us to follow the example Jesus set for us. And I’m about to do it again: Follow the example Jesus gave us–travel, travel, travel!

I was inspired to post a few thoughts after I listened to an interview with Jeremy Courtney and absolutely loved how he described the importance of traveling! The following is an excerpt from that interview (you can find the whole interview on the New Activist podcast by clicking here).

new-activist“How do I start to be a better neighbor? How to do I broaden my tent poles of who is included in my tent. How do I extend the table and put another leaf in the middle so I can welcome more people to my table ? I don’t want to make any bones about how hard that is. If you’re surrounded by a certain kind of tribalism that only wants to regard itself as right and righteous and worth it–breaking out of that might be difficult. Geography can play a limiting factor. Travel is one of the great normalizers of the world, one of the great battering rams of tribalism. It blows through walls and helps us see the other more compassionately and humanely. Travel if you can, if not to another country, another city, or another tribe inside your city. Travel to another denomination, religion, political party, ethnicity than your own. Walk across some street, barrier or boundary into other land and get to know those people. Listen. Go humbly. Do that incarnation thing. That’s the story: travel. It’s an inward journey more than it’s an outward journey, but we have to make that journey.”

Jesus traveled from His home with God to come to earth and inhabit a human body. The all-powerful creator of the the universe and humankind came into this world He created and took on flesh and bone. That’s the “incarnation thing.”

Jesus’ travels had a very specific purpose. He came to teach us that we could have abundant life (John 10:10). I am challenging you to travel with a very specific purpose. Leave the familiar behind. Get out of your comfort zone. Intentionally seek out people you don’t know in a place you don’t understand. When you get there, get to know them. And like Jeremy Courtney said, “Listen. Go humbly. Do that incarnation thing.”

But why? What’s the point of this challenge? 

The point is to learn how to love your neighbor the way you love yourself (Matthew 22:39, Luke 14:12-14). It’s difficult to love your neighbors if you don’t know them. And unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to have negative feelings toward them because of stereotypes and prejudices–even though you’ve never met them.

So travel! Please, travel. Put yourself in a place where God teaches you how to love your neighbor. Maybe you need to travel outside your familiar neighborhood to meet some people that aren’t like you. Maybe it’s a visit to a church you wouldn’t typically go to. Maybe it is a short term mission trip. Ask God to help you! Ask Him to give you the opportunities. He will.

Joe Paschal
Pastor of Mobilization and Outreach

 

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