If you could wake up tomorrow, and go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Maybe France, to walk the streets of Paris and enjoy some French cuisine? If you’re more of a rough-and-tumble kind of person there’s always Australia, with its wild bush and stormy reefs. What about somewhere closer to home? Cities like Chicago and New Orleans may be a part of the same country, but their cultures couldn’t be more different.
For my part, I would choose a small village in Southern China, a place I once visited while studying abroad. While it may not be as grand as the other destinations I’ve mentioned, this village holds a special place in my heart for one reason: It’s Church. You see, many years ago I attended a Sunday service there, and as I sat in the back, feeling awkward and overly conspicuous, it suddenly dawned on me that I was in the company of Christians. We may be from different places and speak different languages, but we all served the same loving God who died upon a cross to save us from our sins. In that moment, I realized the Kingdom of God was some much bigger than myself.
Travel has the ability to open your eyes. It can show you that Jesus is not limited to your neighborhood or your circle of friends. God’s spirit moves in the hearts of people from every nation. R. Eric Tippin of Relevant Magazine writes,
“The Christian faith is, in one sense, universal, for we all profess the same core beliefs. At the same time, the practice of the Christian faith is as diverse as the cultures in which it is preached and believed…If you take advantage of the opportunity to worship with those of other cultures, the mental meanings of the words ‘Christian’ and ‘Church’ will no longer be limited to your own local congregation but will span the globe—crossing oceans, centuries and cultural barriers.”
The world is a big place, and sometimes it’s easy to focus on the things that make us different instead of acknowledging what we all share. All of us struggle with sin and temptation, and it is only by Christ’s redeeming grace that we can be made whole again. The book of Romans puts it pretty well when it states,
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”– Romans 3:22-24
Right now we are in the middle of celebrating the Winter Olympics. In this time of unity, let’s take a moment to remember that God’s kingdom is not divided by language or nationality. We are all connected, not just by the shared history of the scriptures but by the overwhelming love of Jesus Christ.
What about you? What places hold special meaning in your heart?
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com