The next section of Philip Yancey’s new book Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News? looks at three kinds of Christians having an impact in our world: pilgrims, activists, and artists. Yancey devotes a chapter to each, and each deserves some consideration here over the next several posts.
Pilgrims. This is a particularly apropos this week – at least for those of us in the US. The painting of the first Thanksgiving shown to the right is not historically accurate (wrong clothing etc.) but the image of humans together is a powerful one.
A pilgrim is a fellow-traveler on a spiritual journey, not a professional guide.
We are God’s people on earth, and none of us are perfect. In fact we are a rather motley crew. But apparently this is the plan. The Gospels relate the marvelous story of Jesus’s ministry on earth, his miraculous healings and his control of nature, his appalling crucifixion and then the magnificent victory of resurrection. But the story ends with the disciples staring up into the sky and wondering what to do next.
“Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” were the disciples’ last words to Jesus, and it was left to the angels to provide an indirect answer: “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Get moving – you’re the main actors now.
We bumbling pilgrims are “the Jesus left behind” after the ascension, the heirs of God’s Spirit. Paul takes the concept further, calling us the body of Christ and God’s temple – meaning the actual presence of God in the world. We are the reason Jesus came, to set into motion a kingdom without borders that eventually would indeed reach Europe and China and Australia and the Americas. (p. 101)