Integration PhaseIsrael/PalestineLearning LabParticipant ReflectionsUncategorized

Learning Community participant, Derek Rice, is a thinker, learner and practitioner who has a deep desire to see people formed into disciples of Jesus.  His passion and experience offer a compelling critique of “museum tourism” and challenges followers of Jesus to instead do just that: follow.

We journeyed from the other side of the world to the Holy Land and in many ways experienced the Bible come alive.  We were in Bethlehem and touched where Jesus was born.  We were in Capernaum and saw where Jesus did much of his ministry. We were at the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed for peace over Jerusalem.  We sat in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus pleaded for the cup of suffering to pass yet fully submitted to the Fathers will.  We touched where Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.  We walked in the footsteps of Jesus.

As moving as these places were, I left most of them with a pit in my stomach.  Although they gave me a better understanding of the physicality of scripture, I was struck by the disconnect I felt between the historical and the modern narrative that was playing out in front of me.  On one hand I was able to better picture the place of Jesus, on the other hand I had a hard time seeing many people living into the message of Jesus.  I am not suggesting there are not people trying to obey the ways of Jesus in the Holy Land, I was just overwhelmed at the museum like manner in which Jesus was on display.

On this trip we not only visited these historical places but we also befriended the people.  We were invited into homes and shared meals with people who not only know the story of Jesus but live in the way to Jesus.  At one of those meals our host told us that many people come to walk in the footsteps of Jesus but never take the time to meet those they are passing by.  The implications of his statement were sobering.  It means that this place becomes a museum of important artifacts to those that visit and not a place where thousands of people live, work and struggle everyday.  While on a journey of remembrance many seem to miss the present reality of what is before them.  This was very convicting.

I so desperately desire to be transformed in the way of Jesus.  I want the reality of scripture to come alive around me everyday.  It is not enough to walk where Jesus walked without being transformed by who He is.  The tension I feel while being here brings to surface the fact that unless I live like Jesus and obey what he taught, I am just celebrating history.  In John 14:23 Jesus says,  “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.”  Many times I can get caught up in the pursuit of understanding the message and person of Jesus and neglect to obey the way he tells me to live.  I not only want to be a person that studies the life of Jesus but a person that also is being transformed by that life into a disciple of Jesus.

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