We had Tourist Night last night at summer camp.
At high school camp we have different theme nights for our group. We choose a theme and all dress according to that theme. It’s nothing more than a great way for us to build community and have fun with each other.
There were a lot of Hawaiian shirts and sandals with socks on tourist night. No one wants to look like a tourist even if most of us like the experience of being a tourist and visiting new places.
A lot of Christians, though, really like to identify themselves as tourists when looking at their role here on earth.
Philippians 3:18-21 says:
For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Paul tells us that our citizenship is in heaven, we belong more to heaven than we do to this world. I’m ecstatic that Christ’s death and resurrection have washed away my sins and given me the opportunity to be a citizen of heaven. But just because we’re citizens of heaven doesn’t mean we should treat our time on earth as tourists.
Tourists visit someplace, observe, take pictures and then move on. While they may enjoy their time they don’t really do much to engage with the place they’re visiting. Sure they might buy a little trinket or get to know a server or maître d’, but they don’t really invest in the place and its people.
A lot of Christians have a tourist mindset when it comes to earth.
Some Christians believe that since our citizenship is in heaven then we don’t have to actually engage with the world around us. We might take pictures, we might make some observations and we might have some surface contact with the natives. But in the end, we’re just biding our time until we get to go home.
Instead of viewing ourselves as tourists, we need to view ourselves as people with work visas. Our citizenship may be in heaven but that doesn’t leave tourist as our only option. People on work visas live in other countries for a specific purpose: to work. Instead of just visiting and taking pictures, people on work visas are there with a job to do.
We are citizens of heaven sent to earth on a work visa. God has a purpose and a job for us; he has called us to reveal his kingdom in this world. And as long as we claim heaven as home we should view earth as our workplace. We need to engage and invest in the world around us, doing everything we can to bring God’s kingdom wherever we go.
It may not be as easy as taking pictures and sitting by the pool, but it will be far more fulfilling.
How do you avoid being a tourist on earth?