This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on December 7 2014.
Israel’s journey through the wilderness in Exodus and Numbers can be likened to the Christian life. In a similar way to them, we have experienced redemption. Like them also, we are heading towards a promised inheritance. They journeyed toward the Promised Land, while we are journeying towards the future promises of the gospel. In between redemption and inheritance there is the wilderness – an inhospitable place that is only for passing through. It is not somewhere to settle and stay.
For the Christian, the world can be likened to the wilderness. Our life is our journey through it. Insofar as we are Christ’s people, the world is a harsh environment. It does not nurture or sustain our commitment to Christ. It is not a permanent dwelling place for us. Without forgetting the blessings and responsibilities we have in the world, we are in many ways just ‘passing through’. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are seeking a ‘better land’. We are waiting for a new earth (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13-16; 2 Peter 3:13).
That is why Christ’s followers must be careful not to put roots down in the life we have in the world. Doing so will make it harder for us to live the life of pilgrimage, the life of journeying towards the promises God has made to us in Christ. For those of us who are successful in life, the challenge is much harder. If we are not careful we will find ourselves resembling the seed sown amongst the thorns in Jesus’ parable – having the fruitfulness choked out of us by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches (Matt 13:22). Think about this when you make your life decisions and when you guide your children’s early lives. How well will you and your children make the journey through the wilderness that is our life in this world?