Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
1 Peter 1:1-2 NKJV
Most modern English versions of the Bible call the people to whom Peter is writing “exiles,” but I like the word the New King James Version translators chose: “pilgrims.” Whether exiles or pilgrims, one point is the same: we are not at home in this land where we are living. But “pilgrims” suggests that not only are we not at home here, we are headed somewhere else. This is certainly true of us Christians: we are pilgrims on our way home. That’s what John Bunyan captured so well in his classic Pilgrim’s Progress. I’d like to think with you about some characteristics of pilgrims.
Pilgrims travel light. People on a journey can’t carry a lot of stuff. One of the things we don’t have to carry is the heavy baggage of reputation. There is no limit to what God can do with you if you don’t care who gets the credit. You don’t have to succeed if you’re a pilgrim, all you have to do is follow. It doesn’t matter what “they” think of you, it doesn’t matter how you’re looking, because you have gotten yourself off your hands. Possessions? They only slow you down and get in the way. And, anyway, you’re going to have to shed them all at the river. So be free, be free of all that stuff because you only have one concern and that’s the prize—the goal.
Pilgrims live for the long term and therefore they can live the short term to the full. Does that sound strange? It isn’t. If today is all we have, then today can make us or break us. But if you are a pilgrim you are looking to the end of the road, looking at the light shining there. And if today is good, that’s great. If today is bad, that’s OK. The only question is, “Does it get me closer home?” That means you’re free. That means that today can be enjoyed because it doesn’t have its hooks in you.
Come on, pilgrims, let’s go home.