Tips for Travelers

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English Service on March 18, 2018

Messenger: Jim Allison

Passage:Mark 6:6-13


“Tips for Travelers”


Good morning, everyone.  It’s good to be with you again after a 24-day trip to Australia.  The time with the Hokusei Gakuen University students in Sydney and Brisbane was a great chance to see them building some strong communication skills and experiencing another culture.  Thank you, too, especially those who covered for me here, for the refreshing chance to get away from the Hokkaido winter and learn a little of a new culture for myself.  I am now an official Vegemite eater.  But don’t worry if you can’t stand it: I didn’t bring it for our potluck lunch today!   


  Whenever I talk to Open Door, I know I am talking to a group of travelers.  One of the many things I learn from this group is ideas that make travel more convenient and interesting.  James has been teaching me a lot about life in Australia, for example, and I enjoy the window on the world that this church gives me.


We often say that life is a journey.  Even people who feel locked into the same, boring routine every day are actually moving through time and space.  And our lives constantly change as we go through them.  What can help us make the most of the journey of life?  How can we best move toward our lives’ destination so that, at their end, we can look back with satisfaction and know it was a journey worth making?  In today’s message, let’s look at some of the answers the God of the Bible gives us to these questions.  Here are three tips for travelers.


First, know where you’re going.  I’m not great at directions; I’ve gotten lost many times before finding the place I was going.  That is one type of “lostness,” but I’m not talking about that one.  I’ve slowly come to a kind of peace about getting lost because sometimes I discover the most interesting places and meet some very kind people who help me find my way (and practice my Japanese) when I’m lost.  But there’s a deeper level of lostness—not having a clear sense of where you need to go in the first place.  Even if I pay for a first-class ticket on the airplane, what will happen if I push the button overhead, call the flight attendant, and say something like this?


Thank you for telling me I could call you whenever I want something.  You know, I’ve been thinking and I’ve always wanted to see Paris.  I know we are headed toward Tokyo, but would you ask the pilot to turn the plane toward France?


Of course, you know that will not work out very well, right?  In our spiritual lives, too, we need a clear destination.  Christ traveled often.  Verse 6 tells us, “Jesus went around teaching from village to village.”  And He had a clear sense of His destiny.  John 13:3 tells us “Jesus . . . knew he had come from God and was returning to God.”  That knowledge gave Him the ability to live as His Father empowered Him and the freedom to serve other people without feeling it damaged His pride to do so.  (In this case, it led Him to wash His disciples’ feet as a servant.)  We who are followers of Christ also have the same basic understanding of our lives.  They are gifts given by God, who made us, and for God, who is preparing us for a glorious life forever with Him in His home.     


Based on this teaching, there is a long tradition in Christian faith of taking pilgrimages as a type of spiritual training.  People may travel in a group from one famous church or other holy place to another on foot over a great distance for a number of days, weeks, or more.  Buddhists may go from temple to temple.  Muslims make the journey to Mecca at least once in their life if possible.  Many of the first Americans were called Pilgrims, the people with the tall, black hats and black clothes, with the big belt buckle, that you might see in Thanksgiving decorations.  


They left Europe and journeyed to North America, but they understood that their true home was not there.  They were on the way to heaven, they believed.  As followers of Christ, this world is not our home in the most important sense.  It is a place we are for a time before our lives end some day and God takes us to be with Him in heaven, our true home, for all time.


I was reminded of this when I visited a large, famous church in Australia called Hillsong Church.  (A great amount of modern worship music you hear in churches, among other things, has come out of that one.)  As you enter the worship 


area, you see in large letters over the door: “Welcome Home.”  Community worship like we are in now is a time to come into contact in a special way with God, our Father.  It is a time to remind ourselves that the main reason we are in the world in the first place is to give praise to the God who made us and prepare through life in this world to live with Him in joy and peace forever.  In our lives each day, we are on our way home.  We haven’t reached it yet, but we know where we are going.  Worship is a time to gain inner strength through the practice of seeing that reality.  


Pilgrims learn the rhythms of work and rest through making the effort to keep moving forward and relaxing at the end of each day’s journey.  They discover that there is something worth learning at every single place they go and from each person they meet.  They find that the journey changes them.  The experience of learning, growing, and becoming slowly transforms them.  They are different people in some important ways at the end than they were at the beginning.  These are among the lessons that pilgrims say they learn.  


Are you and I moving ahead, making progress in our spiritual lives?  What are we discovering?  How are we growing as human beings led and formed and reformed through following Christ?  Having the clear goal of walking with God, for God, and to God can help us find our best answers to these questions.  


There’s a story of a man who had plans to travel by hot air balloon to a distant country.  He had studied and saved and prepared for the journey for many weeks.  But when he actually began flying, he was blown off course by strong winds.  He was forced to land in a completely different nation.  But there he met new people, learned to communicate with them, enjoyed eating their food, and was generally delighted to have come to this place without really trying.  God’s way of leading people is often like that if we learn to accept the unexpected changes he sends our way.  If our greatest goal is following His leading and that is clear in our minds and hearts, we can learn to welcome surprises and interruptions and discover God’s greater leading through them.


I think I experienced something like that in going to Australia. The plans were for only one other teacher to go with the students.  But our university decided to send two of us.  I was happy to go but couldn’t imagine finding 24 days to make it possible time-wise.  So I resisted for week after week, while also asking God to guide.  In the end, two other teachers agreed to teach two of my classes to open up time in my schedule.  As a result, I was able to go and found it a real blessing, a chance to both learn a lot for myself and help the students and others in various ways.  Once again I found myself thanking God that things did not go as I planned but as He led.  Our faith can help us in not only dramatic but also simple yet very practical situations such as this.


Tip number two: travel light.  When Jesus told the disciples (vv. 8-9) to take no bread, bad, money, sandals, or extra clothes—only a walking stick—His purpose was not just to toughen them up by making them suffer.  It was also to help them travel freely, without things to carry that would feel heavier and heavier and eventually stop them from doing their best work.  Christ’s command was not that we should never have possessions.  It was not that the fewer we have, the happier He is with us, either.  But for this particular season of training, He wanted the disciples to experience directly and physically for themselves depending on Him to meet their needs.  He knew how easily people can fall into the temptation to depend on material things to give us our sense of security, peace, joy, satisfaction and so on.  He knew how poor a substitute for a relationship with God that these things are.  He knew how quickly we can slip from owning things to being owned by them.  So He told them in effect, “This time, less is more.”  


Imagine you had a room in a capsule hotel.  But you thought it was a little too plain, so you bought an expensive oil painting and hung it on one wall.  Then you had a high-tech, high-priced, wide-screen, flat-screen TV installed on another wall.  But you still didn’t feel it was quite enough, so you hung a mini-chandelier on the ceiling.  Then you worked day and night for years to save money and buy the world’s highest-quality sound system and futon (with a back massage function) and hand-woven silk pajamas.  If you did all that and you had an honest friend, that person might say: 


Hey, why are you going to that much trouble?  This is just a capsule hotel, after all.  And it isn’t yours in the first place.  You’re going to have to leave sometime anyway.  What are you going to do with all that stuff then?  Is it really worth it, what you’re doing?   


When Jesus tells His men to travel light, He is reminding them that however much we collect over the course of our lives, we are going to lose it all anyway.  We will all die, of course, and it might be sooner than we think.  The most material goods can do is help us in limited ways for a limited time.  So it’s not bad to have stuff, but we can easily turn it into something damaging if we come to love it more than things that are truly more valuable.  Many of those are things we cannot see with our eyes or hold in our hands.  It’s wiser to treasure God’s promise (Philippians 4:19): “My God will meet all your needs.  He will meet them in keeping with his wonderful riches that come to you because you belong to Christ Jesus.”  


The last tip for travelers: remember, you never travel alone.  Christ doesn’t ask His people to serve Him by ourselves.  First and most, He Himself is always with us.  He keeps the promise He made in Matthew 28:20b, “. . . I am always with you, even to the very end.”  So in the most important way, we cannot be alone if we have received Christ into our lives.  In this reality there is great freedom from the loneliness that drives so many people to depression and worse.  


And God has designed us so that we need not only His presence but that of other people, as well.  So (v. 7) He sent them out two by two to serve people in His name.  That not only gave them greater safety and someone to encourage them when they felt down.  It also made a way for them to hold each other accountable.  They could help each other stay on the path Christ wanted them to walk and warn one another if they were getting off it.  That’s what He wants for us, too.  How are we doing at that?  Are we working together, building each other up, and encouraging each other to keep on the path of faith in the best way we can?  To our God, that is very important.       


Are we doing that in our teaching?  One of the key reasons the disciples were sent out was to spread Jesus’ message.  What was it?  They were to preach “about God’s kingdom” (Luke 9:2).  At Open Door we have many speakers with many styles and approaches.  But through all of them, we are to give Christ’s message, and it clearly focused on the kingdom of God, the rule of God in the lives of people.  There’s a huge amount inside that theme, but our call is to always keep our focus on it, as Christ did.


The other key part of the work the disciples were sent to do was helping people practically, for example in regaining their health.  The word of God’s love went hand in hand with the actions that showed God’s love.  Jesus had modeled this balanced approach in His work.  Mark 1:39 tells us, “So he traveled all around Galilee.  He preached in their synagogues.  He also drove out demons.”  We also are here not only to focus on the spoken and written word of God but to go and live out that word by serving people in His power.  We are to receive the word, let it grow us, and tell it to others.  But if we truly receive it, God’s word will lead us to actions of service in His name.  Many churches are either focused on proclaiming the word of God or on social service.  Really, Christ taught His people to do both.  So let’s commit ourselves to growing spiritually, telling His message, and working together as a result, for the glory of God and the good of the people in our city and beyond.          


What is the difference between a tourist and a true traveler?  Someone put it this way: “A tourist is going to go home someday.”  In other words, a true traveler is always traveling, always in the process of discovering, learning, and becoming.  There’s something like that in the journey of Christian faith.  God calls us to leave the comfort and ease of our homes, set aside our old, sinful selves, and follow His Son Jesus on the journey of faith in newness of life.  We walk with Him in our work and play and rest and all parts of life.  He gives us the things we need to make this possible and frees us from the things that will slow us down and make it difficult.  And He gives us partners to walk beside us each step of the way.  For this, let’s go to Him now with thanks and praise and move from the message into a short time of prayer of commitment.


Lord of all time and every place, today again we have heard your call to walk each day in the direction you send us, trusting in your power alone, with the partners you provide for us on our journeys of faith.  Help us today, all this week, and always to gain more and more experience in walking by faith and discovering the adventure of living as your Son Jesus’ disciples.  In His name we pray, amen.       


Mark 6:6-13

6 He was amazed because they had no faith. Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 

7 He called the Twelve to him. Then he sent them out two by two. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits. 

8 Here were his orders. "Take only a walking stick for your trip. Do not take bread or a bag. Take no money in your belts. 

9 Wear sandals. But do not take extra clothes. 

10 When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. 

11 Some places may not welcome you or listen to you. If they don't, shake the dust off your feet when you leave. That will be a witness against the people living there." 

12 They went out. And they preached that people should turn away from their sins. 

13 They drove out many demons. They poured olive oil on many sick people and healed them.


Luke 9:1-6

1 Jesus called the Twelve together. He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to heal sicknesses. 

2 Then he sent them out to preach about God's kingdom and to heal those who were sick. 

3 He told them, "Don't take anything for the journey. Do not take a walking stick or a bag. Do not take any bread, money or extra clothes. 

4 When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. 

5Some people may not welcome you. If they don't, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town. This will be a witness against the people living there." 

6 So the Twelve left. They went from village to village. They preached the good news and healed people everywhere.


Luke 10:1-2

1 After this the Lord appointed 72 others. He sent them out two by two ahead of him. They went to every town and place where he was about to go. 

2 He told them, "The harvest is huge, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field. 


Matthew 10:5-16

5 Jesus sent these 12 out with the following orders. "Do not go among those who aren't Jews," he said. "Do not enter any town of the Samaritans. 

6 Instead, go to the people of Israel. They are like sheep that have become lost. 

7 As you go, preach this message, 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' 

8Heal those who are sick. Bring those who are dead back to life. Make those who have skin diseases 'clean' again. Drive out demons. You have received freely, so give freely.

9 "Do not take along any gold, silver or copper in your belts. 

10 Do not take a bag for the journey. Do not take extra clothes or sandals or walking sticks. A worker should be given what he needs. 

11 "When you enter a town or village, look for someone who is willing to welcome you. Stay at that person's house until you leave. 

12 As you enter the home, greet those who live there. 

13 If that home welcomes you, give it your blessing of peace. If it does not, don't bless it. 

14 "Some people may not welcome you or listen to your words. If they don't, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 

15 What I'm about to tell you is true. On judgment day it will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. 

16 "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as harmless as doves. 


Mark 1:35-39

35 It was very early in the morning and still dark. Jesus got up and left the house. He went to a place where he could be alone. There he prayed. 

36 Simon and his friends went to look for Jesus. 

37 When they found him, they called out, "Everyone is looking for you!" 

38 Jesus replied, "Let's go somewhere else. I want to go to the nearby towns. I must preach there also. That is why I have come." 

39 So he traveled all around Galilee. He preached in their synagogues. He also drove out demons.


John 13:3-5

 Jesus knew that the Father had put everything under his power. He also knew he had come from God and was returning to God. 

4 So he got up from the meal and took off his outer clothes. He wrapped a towel around his waist. 

5 After that, he poured water into a large bowl. Then he began to wash his disciples' feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 


             マルコによる福音書  6章6節〜13節










 私達が人生の旅の終わりに振り返った時に、良い旅(旅をする価値があった)であったと思い、満足する為には、どのようにして人生の目的地に向かって動いて行ったら、一番良いのでしょう? 今日のメッセージでは、これらの疑問に対する聖書の神様の答えを見ていきます。


 まず第一に、あなたは何処へ向かっているのかを知ることです。私は方向感覚に自信がありません。いきたい所を見つける前に迷ったことが多くあります。これは‘迷い’の一つの形ではありますが、そのことを言っているのではありません。私は、迷ってしまうことに対して、次第に平安のようなものを感じ始めてきています。何故ならば、時々、最も興味深いと思える場所を見つけたり、私が迷っている時に正しい道を教えてくれる(日本語の練習を兼ねて)親切な人々に出会うことができるからです。しかし、深いレベルにおける‘迷い’があります。それは、そもそも何処に行ったら良いのかはっきりとした意識を持っていないということです。もし、私が、飛行機のファーストクラスのチケットを買って乗り、頭の上にあるボタンを押し、キャビンアテンダントを呼んで、「欲しいものがあったらいつでも呼んでくださいと言ってくれてありがとう。実は、ずっとパリを見てみたいと考えていたんだよ。もちろん、今我々は東京に向かっていることは知っている んだけれど、でもね、パイロットに飛行機をフランスに向かわせるようにお願いして貰えないだろうか?」と言ったとしたらどうなるでしょう? 



   私達の霊的な生活においても、明確な目的地が必要なのです。キリストはよく旅をされていました。6節では ‘イエスは村々を回って教えておられた。’とあります。そしてイエス様はご自身の運命について明白な意識を持たれています。ヨハネによる福音書13章3節では、‘イエスは、ご自身が神の御許から来られ、神の御許に帰られると知っておられた。’とあります。この知識によってイエス様は、父なる神様によって権威を与えられたまま生活することができ、また、権威を損なうことなく他の人々に仕えることができる自由を得ているのです(これは、イエス様が仕える者として、弟子達の足を洗ったことに表れています。)。







  わたしにはこのことを思い出させてくれたのは、ヒルソングチャーチ(Hillsong Church)というオーストラリアで有名な大きな教会を訪れた時でした(私達が教会で聴く現代的なワーシップソング『讃美』の多くは、とりわけこの教会が生み出したものです。)この教会の礼拝エリアに入ると、入り口ドアの上に「お帰りなさい(Welcome Home)という大きな文字が掲げてあります。私達が今、行なっているような同一の共同体(Community Worship)による礼拝は、特別な方法で神様と触れ合うひと時なのです。そしてそれは、そもそも私達が今、この世界にいる理由、すなわち、私達を創り、この世における人生を通して、喜びと平安に満たされて永遠に神様と生きる備えをして下さっている神様に讃美を捧げることです。私達は家に帰る途中なのです。私達はまだそこに到達していませんが、私達の何処に向かっているかを知っています。礼拝は、それを現実のものとして見る(知る)訓練を通して、内面的な力を得る為のものです。



  皆さん、私もですが、私達の霊的な生活において前に進み、進歩しているでしょうか? 私達は何を見つけていますか?キリストに従うことで、キリストに導かれ、形作られ、再形成されている私達は、人間としてどのように成長していますか?神様と共に神様のために、神様に向かって歩くという明確な目標を持つことは、私達が、これらの疑問に’対する最上の答えを見つける助けになります。











   “パンも、袋も、お金、予備のサンダル、着替えを持たず、ただ「杖」だけを持っていきなさい。” と。イエス様がこのように言ったのは、単に、弟子達に困難を与えて、彼らを強く、たくましくするためではありません。かえって、彼らが、重くなっていく一方の荷物を抱えて、しまいには最良の働きをする妨げになってしまうことのないよう、自由に旅をさせるためでした。キリストのご命令は、私達は財産を持ってはいけないというものではありません。また、私達の持ち物が少なければ、それだけ神様が私達に満足されるといったものでもありません。しかしこれは、弟子達が特別な訓練をすべき時期に、弟子達が、彼らの必要を満たすため、直接的、肉体的にイエス様に頼ることを経験させるためでした。イエス様は、人々がいとも容易く、安全、平和、喜び、満足、その他のことを得るため、物質的なものに頼るという誘惑に陥るか知っておられたからです。イエス様は、それらのことが、神様との関係の代わりとして、いかに貧弱なものかを知っておられました。また、イエス様は、私達が、いかに早く、物を所有している状態から、物に所有されている状態に陥ってしまうか知っておられたのです。それで、イエス様は、弟子達に実際に “今回は少ない方が良い”と言われたのです。





      いのに、一体全体、こんなにどうするの? こんなことする必要あるの? 一体何をしたい



  勿論、私達は皆全て死んでいく身であり、また、その時期は私達が考えているより早いかもしれません。物質的なもののほとんどができることは、限られた時間のための限られた方法で私達を助けるだけです。 それでも物を所有するのは悪いことではありませんが、私達が、その物の本来の価値以上にそれらを愛するようになることで、それらはいとも簡単に私達を害するものに変わってしまうのです。神様の約束を宝とする方が賢いのです。

“ 私の神は、キリスト・イエスにあるご自身の栄光の富をもって、あなたがたの必要をすべて満たして下さいます。”(ピリピ4章19節)





    また神様は私達を、神様の存在が必要になるだけではなく、それと同様に他の人の存在も必要になる存在として設計(デザイン)されました。それで、(7節)イエス様は弟子達を二人づつ人々に仕えるために御自身の名前によって送り出したのです。それは、彼らに大きな安心感を与えたり、落ち込んだ時に勇気づけるためだけではなく、お互いに責任を持ちあう手段を与えたことになったのです。それによって、弟子達は、キリストが歩くように望まれる道に留まることをお互いに助け合い、それに外れそうになった時には、お互いに警告しあうことができるのです。これはキリストが私達にも求めておられることでもあります。私達はどのようにして、このことを行なっていますか? 私達は共に働き、お互いを高めあっていますか? そして、私達ができうる限り最も良い方法で、この道に留まるため、お互いに励ましあっていますか? 神様に対してです。これが最も大事です。




  それは何でしたか? 彼らは“神の御国” (ルカ9章2節)について説教することです。私達には、色々なスタイルやアプローチで話をする方々が多くいます。しかしその語られる全てにおいて、私達は“キリストのメッセージ”を語らなければなりません。そしてそれは、神様の御国と人の生活に関する神様のルールに、はっきりと焦点を置くべきものです。このテーマには大量の内部がありますが、キリストがされたように私達も焦点を絞っていきましょう。