Church Health

A Pilgrim Mentality

by Rev. Steve Hammer, Assistant to the DS for Church Health

In his book, Money, Possessions and Eternity, Randy Alcorn writes about the importance of developing and maintaining a pilgrim mentality. At the beginning of the book, he quotes A.W. Tozer who said: “The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend upon that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in. What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do at the last day.” The little moments of truth (opportunities to trust the Lord) prepare us for the big moment of truth we all will face one day.

Materialism would deceive us into thinking that this world is at the center of life. Tozer exhorts us: “We would do well to think of the long tomorrow.” We were made for heaven. For now, of course, we live on earth. As children of eternity, though, sometimes we just don’t fit in this life. C.S. Lewis famously stated in Mere Christianity: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” He goes on to admonish us to keep alive our desire for our true country—and help others to do the same. Philippians 3:20 says: “But our citizenship is in heaven”. 2 Corinthians 5:20 makes clear: “We are… Christ’s ambassadors.” While we live as “aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13), God uses us to influence others for Him.

Peter picked up on that theme, too, calling followers of Christ to live as strangers here in reverent fear. Both he and Paul call our bodies “tents”—temporary dwellings. The writer of Hebrews speaks of “longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” Even Moses is given as an example of someone looking ahead to his reward. His reverent fear of the King of Heaven was greater than his fear of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Pilgrims live with limited attachments to this life. Material things are mostly valuable to us as they allow us to carry out God’s mission on earth. The world system was not meant to deliver us from our internal emptiness. “Aim at heaven”, C.S. Lewis wrote, “and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” Persecuted Christians were commended because they “joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions” (Hebrews 10:34).

Alcorn concludes: “At death, a Christian doesn’t leave home. We go home. Consider the paradox—our true home is a place we’ve never been! Home is where our Father is.” We rest in God then—and now.

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