I’ve been reading through Andy Davis’ An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness, which has been great so far. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to write up a full book review in the future, but, until then, I wanted to share a snippet of the book that I believe to be a much-needed word for Christians, particularly my brothers and sisters in Western Christianity.
Davis builds the book upon the foundation that our Christian life is rooted in two journeys—an external one and an internal. He writes:
What are these journeys? 1) The external journey of the worldwide advance of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to all nations. 2) The internal journey of an individual Christian from being dead in sin to gloriously perfect in Christ.
Davis makes clear that these two journeys are not as separate as we might think. He explains, “These two journeys are really one and the same thing, and they are carried on for the same ultimate goal—the glory of God in the final perfection of the Church.” Ultimately, he is saying that the Lord is directing both, and calling us to wholeheartedly pursue both. We preach the gospel to the nations to grow the body of Christ, and we preach the gospel to ourselves to grow more like Christ. These are the two great aims of the Christian life. While this in itself is a helpful way to organize our goals and duties as a Christian, he does not stop there. Davis goes on to point out an imbalance on the part of many American churches.
He says that too many churches in American evangelicalism focus on the numbers associated with the external journey (baptisms, attendance, etc.) to the neglect of helping their congregation progress in the internal journey, which is simply discipleship. Davis explains:
The Church needs to reclaim a Bible-saturated, Spirit-drenched emphasis on both of these infinite journeys, learning that they are absolutely intertwined. It is impossible for the Church to make progress externally to the ends of the earth if there are no Christians mature enough to pay the price to go as missionaries and martyrs. And it is impossible to make genuine progress in sanctification if the people only read good Christian books and stay in classrooms, but refuse to get out into the world as witnesses. These journeys are mutually interdependent: without progress in one, there can be no progress made in the other.
This is helpful for churches and individual Christians alike to ponder: are we zealously dedicated to both journeys? As ministers, are we spending our resources on both of these or is there an imbalance within the focus and mission of the church?
As a Christian, am I more passionate about the gospel bearing fruit around the globe than it bearing fruit within my own life? If so, pray that the Lord would bring an adjustment to your life to help you see the immense need for both journeys.
Lord, give us grace to preach the gospel around the globe and to work it deep within our own lives. Do this for the building up of Your Church, all for Your glory.