Tourist Trap Christians

by pastortimfowler

So, we were in the Bahamas for a port of call during our recent cruise and decided to play tourist. We left the ship to go shopping in the town and see if we could buy a few souvenirs and gifts for the kids back home. We went into what was called the Straw Village which was lined with row after row of locals selling trinkets and t-shirts and hats. After the third row of probably 20 rows, I began to notice that nothing was much different from the row before. The same hats, the same jewelery, the same shirts, just a different display and a different person sitting there trying to get us to buy their stuff. There was no gap in between tables and only about five feet in between vendors. As we continued to make our way around to the next row and then the next, I began to see something that made me think about Christians.
Let me preface what I am about to say with the note that I never like to lump any group of people together with a blanket statement, even though there are many broad statements that could be said about many groups, including Christians. I am not accusing all Christians of being like what I am about to say, but there are enough that it could apply to a large portion of them.
Each vendor in this place knew that there were cruise ships in port that day. This was a regular stop and a popular place for tourists to shop. Most of the first time tourists like me, were expecting this enthusiastic greeting from all of the locals who they were trying to earn our business. Sadly, it wasn’t so. Instead of a warm welcome, we were greeted with a barrage of the same old lines repeated by each vendor there. “Slow down, look and touch. Great deal today.” This was said over and over by each vendor and was said with no enthusiasm and no meaningful voice inflections. And, because they were seated so close to each other, there was no recognizable difference in one vendor to the next. They were so used to tourists being there that it was not special to them, even though it was our money buying their goods that put food on their plates. They repeated the same lines so many times that it had no impact on them nor us, the tourists.
Christians have become a lot like this. We are free in America to speak the Gospel anytime, anywhere, to anyone. But we have heard it and spoke it so much that there is no meaning to our words anymore to the ones who hear it from us. Those who hear it from us have heard the same old lines repeated time and time again by a less than enthused Christian that it does not convict them to act, but rather compels them to hurry through the market of churches selling Christianity.
Every now and then we came across an individual in the market that had a smile and a belief that what they were selling was really worth you buying and they were willing to put the effort into making the most of their one opportunity to sell you what they had. And strangely, at these rare vendors tables, tourists were flocking and buying and walking away thinking that they had received something special from their visit to the Bahamas.
I know that my salvation, given to me from God through Jesus Christ is special. You can only get it from God and He has authorized me to be a vendor for it. He has put me in a market place that has groves of people walking through, looking for something and someone to convince them to buy it. I can either repeat the same old boring line that you have heard a million times before or I can sell it to you in a way that makes you know that what I have is special. The burden is not on the tourist walking by my table in life, but on me, the vendor, who has been given the wonderful opportunity to sell you something that will make you glad that you came by my table.
Most tourists only get to visit a place like this once or twice in a lifetime. Some will buy a trinket that will end up in the bottom of a suitcase and make a less than dazzling impression on others and may never get a second look after that. Some will remember the person who sold the trinket and tell the story of how wonderful the person who sold it to them was and convince others to try what they just experienced. But never forget that the vendors are the ones who truly make the difference to someone buying from them. They are the ones who make someone walk by in hopes of escaping, or, stop and buy what they are selling.
Christians are not selling to tourists the trinkets of a vacation, but a life changing, eternal hope of having favor with God and being able to show the benefits of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior. Churches are not the place that just happens to put food on the table, but rather are giving food for the soul. Jesus is far better than trinkets and t-shirts and certainly is better than a 5 day vacation in a tropical paradise. It is the hope of an eternal home in the paradise of Heaven with a God who loves us enough to pay our sin debt and allow us to share this awesome hope with others.

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