Judging the traveller

January in Cork is travel month.  College is off.  Exams are far away and a “mini summer” awaits.  Students are often surprised that despite what I write and speak about intentional travel, when they say they’re off travelling, I usually react in very warm ways and have a gleam in my eye.  And so I do.

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Train tracks of Mallow Station.  God’s law is like train tracks for the Christian, keeping us on the right way, with an engine of grace-fuelled, Spirit-filled living.  It says a lot about idolatry  but not much on travel specifically.

Because I’d rather assume they have Godly motives for their  travel, and point them to Christ, than shun them and refuse to talk to them.  Yes, of course there’s a place for the law in the Christian life, and being honest and forthright with people who are making travel an idol, but in the majority of cases, travels (like many things in life,) are not a black and white case of idolatry.  A January holiday to Ongo Bongo land cannot fall into a binary classification.

I remember one woman I know used to scold people for putting their holiday pictures up on facebook, as if they were just obsessed with themselves.  And that may be true.  But couldn’t it also be for others to enjoy God’s world?

So often I find my heart falling into the bitterness of the older brother in the prodigal son story.  The younger one was away squandering much, and here I am working hard all these years!  And yet when the younger brother returns, everyone is obsessed with him and pays lots of attention to him!  What a pain godliness can seem to be in such a circumstance.  And how bitter our hearts can become.

But may I remember that the Spirit will convict us differently, and is so marvelously gentle with us all.  Thank God that He does not show me the full extent of my darker recesses of my heart all at once, or else I’d be as dead, overwhelmed with it.  And so he gently exposes our culture’s idol of travel (or equally of self-righteous older brother’s “sacrificial living”) in so many of our hearts and calls us each with a better story.

May we stop to repent, whichever we lean towards.

I find Sundays a great day for that.  Stopping.  Recalibrating my spiritual life.  Bathing in gospel-centred community.  Would you join me?

 

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