I have a thing for bags. Not shopping bags or lady’s handbags, but manly bags – functional bags. A few years back I became fed-up with the number of bags I was wearing-out, patching-up and hoping that I could extend their lives a little longer, only to accept the fact that despite all of my attempts, I had to throw them out. It was then that I made a life-changing decision. I decided that would stop buying bags and begin to buy luggage that was guaranteed to last. Since that moment, I have never had to throw out a bag or a case. As you could imagine this required a huge change in what I was prepared to spend on luggage. But the reason I value good luggage is not because I like carrying or wheeling bags and cases around — it’s because the right luggage enables the right things to be packed for the right journey. This is how I see Christianity. It is a journey because it requires packing our life luggage and following Christ as we walk with Him. If we were to unpack this life luggage we would find three essential items, and this what we will discover now as we unpack Christianity.
¶ Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught,
abounding in thanksgiving.
PACKING FOR THE JOURNEY WITH CHRIST
The Bible describes following Christ as a “walk” (Col. 2:6). It is a journey, a life-long journey. There are many people in our church who enjoy going on long hikes. Some of these adventurous people introduced Kim to the joys of bushwalking for days on end through forests, along rivers, through streams, up steep hills, across inlets in small row-boats to continue walking through the bush on the other side. After Kim had tasted of the joys of walking through the gorgeous Tasmanian outdoors, she insisted that I join with her in a walk from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek so that I too could become enraptured by the incomparable pleasures of strolling in the sunshine through the Tasmanian countryside.
To go on this stroll from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek would require proper walking boots, gaters, a raincoat, a walking pole, and a hiking backpack, Kim said. But then, she explained, we would also need to pack certain things to make our journey possible. Possible? Yes, possible. We would need to pack food, a tent for shelter, and some emergency supplies. Emergency supplies? I wondered. Why would anyone going on a little stroll through the Tasmanian bush need emergency supplies?
To commence this journey required a small plane trip. We were dropped off at Melaleuca (about as south-west as you can in Tasmania). We unloaded our packs from the plane and set out. I discovered that this was not a stroll, nor was it an overnight stroll. This journey usually takes 5 – 7 days. It involved walking over the Ironbound Range and traversing through some very muddy rough bush. Now that I think about, this journey has many similarities to our journey through life. And, as Kim said, we really did need our hiking backpacks. And, as Kim said, we also really did need to pack the three essential items in our backpacks to make the journey possible. This also is just like being a Christian, because being a Christian is not merely an event, or even a moment, it is a journey that requires packing our ‘life bag’ appropriately.
¶ Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers,
strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church.
You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.
THE THREE ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO PACK FOR YOUR JOURNEY WITH CHRIST
Food. Emergency communication. Shelter.
Following Christ is a journey, an adventure, a trek. It’s a journey that comes with a map, sign-posts, and travelling companions. It’s journey that comes with a complimentary “hiking backpack”. Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your inexhaustible food supply: God’s Word. The new Christian feeds on the goodness of God’s Word in the same way that a newborn baby feeds on his or her mother’s milk (1Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12, 14; 1Peter 2:2). Packing the Word of God into your pack involves reading, listening, pondering, study, and applying. It is in the learning to apply it that the growing believer begins to enjoy the “solid food” of the Bible.
Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your communication device. The new and growing believer discovers that they are never alone. They discover that they can talk with their Creator. While non-believers mistakenly think of prayer as the way to control their ‘gods’, the growing believer comes to understand that prayer is talking with the One who has saved and adopted them into His family. Whenever I prepare a couple for marriage, the first and main thing that we work on together is communication. It is in communication that develop intimacy and trust. On the journey with Christ throughout your life you will grow closer to Him by learning to pray. You discover that prayer is not giving God a list of demands, but a means by which you can pour your heart out to Him just as you would with any person you have committed your life to and are increasingly becoming transparent with.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
¶ “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do,
for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.”
Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your shelter. God has provided shelter for each of His children. It is the local church — their new family. It is in the church that every growing believer finds that they are welcomed, accepted, and belong. It is not just the house of God it is the believer’s spiritual home. God plants His people in a spiritual home where they can be sheltered, protected, nurtured, and nourished. When Jesus told His disciples of His mission to save people from eternal lostness, He described those whom He would save as being formed into His church. The local church is what every growing believer belongs to and makes a priority in their life.
And He [the Father] put all things under His [the Son] feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church…
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities
in the heavenly places…to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 1:22; 3:10, 21
Over the next few Sunday evenings I hope to unpack and explain these spiritual backpack items to several growing Christians. It is my hope that you will join with me and our team to welcome people into our church family and show them their spiritual backpacks and what Christ has put inside each of them. We kick off this Sunday night with a welcome and introductory dinner, then the following three Sunday nights we will ‘unpack’ Christianity together. I hope that you will be able to sit across the table, enjoy some light supper, and be an encouragement to those who are just starting out on their journey with Christ.
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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