not of this world
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:20
As I ponder on this verse, I can’t help but think about C.S. Lewis’ quote from Mere Christianity: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Initially, I read this and think, “Well, that’s frustrating.” Living in a world where no matter how much you over-indulge, you can never be truly satisfied. Yea, maybe for a moment, but as soon as the initial euphoria of pleasure is gone; you’re left depleted, needing more. I think we can all agree that happiness is fleeting. Always on the constant hunt for it, and just when you think you’re close enough to grab it, it darts under the couch…like a roach. Happiness is like a roach.
Ha. Okay, I’m kidding about the roach thing.
But, really. Like Lewis said: if we aren’t fully satisfied with the things of this world, well then it must mean we were made for another world. As I read through Scripture, I can’t help but notice how many times as Christians we are referred to as “sojourners”, “exiles”, and “citizens of Heaven.” The more that I meditate on how deep this truth is, the more I realize how far we are from living, let alone believing it.
There’s a tiny, yet very important little booklet that is quite necessary in my life. Yes, the Bible…but, I’m talking about my passport. As I travel from country to country, my passport confirms my citizenship of the United States. Regardless of how much I immerse myself in another country, my citizenship remains the same. And despite how many “local” things I do in a new city, one thing remains true: I’m a sojourner. My passport, just like my Bible, reminds me of my roots.
I must admit, there is one thing I enjoy more than anything else in this world—and that’s being a tourist. There’s something special about being a visitor. Think about the times you’ve been a tourist in a new place. Every step is an experience. You notice the little things. Something as mundane as the side of a building can cause you to stand in awe. There’s wonder at the turn of every street corner.
Not only does being a tourist cause you to almost-certainly experience an adventure every time, but as a tourist, we tend to over-prepare for anything that might come our way. Think about the times you’ve been a stranger in a new place, and upon heading into the unknown streets of a new location, you make sure you’re ready for those just-in-case moments.
I love being a tourist even in my own city. My friends laugh at me because not only do I act like a tourist everywhere that I go, but I look like one. I lug an over-sized gray and pink NorthFace backpack with me all the time. In it I usually carry the essentials: my laptop, my Bible, my make-up, a change of clothes, a phone charger, and an Italian study book. As silly as I may look at times, I’ve learned to embrace the tourist in me. Not only do I make sure I am prepared for whatever may come my way, but I choose to look at each day as a brand new adventure. Whether I am in my own city or a strange one, I seek out new people to share Jesus with and new experiences to soak in.
As I press into the idea of being a perpetual tourist, I can’t help but make it applicable as a follower of Jesus. Being a tourist surrounded by a people and a culture that is unfamiliar can be wearisome at times. But if we hold fast to where our citizenship is from, not seeking this world to satisfy us, but letting Jesus be our tour guide and our source of satisfaction, then maybe, life doesn’t have to be as frustrating as trying to catch that roach that keeps running under the furniture. We are free to enjoy our time as tourists here on earth, not looking at our earthly blessings to fulfill us, but as a means for us to enjoy and give glory back to God. Praise Jesus for coming so that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Praise Him because He’s the only thing that isn’t fleeting—He is steadfast and He is infinite.
C.S. Lewis couldn’t have said it better himself as he continued: “I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
Christians, I encourage you to be a tourist in every aspect of your life. Be watchful. Notice the little things that Jesus would. Be thankful for your undeserved and abundant earthly blessings--never to mistake them as more than just an echo. Before stepping out of the front door, make sure you’re prepared for battle. Remember that you are a sojourner. Keep your hope and your focus on your homeland—heaven. For only there is where your true satisfaction comes from. Press on toward the goal. And most importantly, help others do the same.
“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” Hebrews 11:16a