Speaker: Jerry Cisar
Until recently I was unaware that Pilgrim’s Progress had a Part 2. That may be because I have mostly read Pilgrim’s Progress in one of the variety of renditions for children which are nicely illustrated. Of course, I was just doing that to serve my kids. (Right!) By itself, Part 1 of Pilgrim’s Progress tells a story that fits well with even the most pious Christians in America today. It’s not unfair to say that it paints the christian life as a fairly individualistic journey. It seems Bunyan was aware of this weakness and wrote Part 2 which tells of the journey of Christian’s family to the Celestial City.
Upon discovering that Part 2 existed, I read a summary and review to my delight. In Part 2, Christiana (Christian’s wife) is not going it alone. She has her four sons with her and a lady named Mercy joins her. Soon they are joined by Great-Heart who serves as their guide. By the time they reach the River at the end of the book they are a large company. There are the lame, the struggling, and the valiant in their ranks. They are a community. They are talking together, praying together, singing together. This, I propose, paints the biblical picture of the journey that is missing in the typical American concept of following Jesus. Even the most devout Christians have a Pilgrim’s Progress Part 1 paradigm. We need a Part 2 paradigm.
When Christ saves us, He sets us on in a caravan, a company of people on a pilgrimage together. It’s called the church. Caravans journey together for safety as they pass through deserts or hostile territory. Christ informed us that the only safe way of traveling the journey we are on is in this caravan. There are plenty of other caravans, and you may prefer their community rules, but they are not going to the same place!
Where are we going? What should we expect? What are the community rules? Why do we need a spiritual community? Can’t we get that in other places? We will be exploring questions like these and others this Sunday as we look at part 2 of our series, The Church: A Spiritual Community.