The Travel and Leisure Gospel

Want to travel around the world, doing whatever you want, avoiding work and the commitments of life? What if I told you that you could do those things and still be totally spiritual about it. And not any new-age spirituality (well, maybe a little). You can actually claim that you are following God’s calling.

Here’s an article I found that claims all of that. What follows is my best attempt to show how bad it is. Warning: As I go on responding to the article, my sarcasm grows. I can’t help it.

I’m going to share the two types of freedom that i’m pursuing. I’m already free on the inside(see: The Gospel), but there are external freedoms that I believe God is calling me to, and I’m going to run after it with everything I’ve got.

This is probably all the warning that is needed for the article. The Gospel has been isolated to an internal change and freedom has been framed as the ability to act on one’s desires (well, as long as we believe “God is calling us”). The Gospel is everything, though. It grants freedom from sin and freedom to love God. This freedom was present for Paul, who sat in Roman prisons, and for Stephen who was stoned to death. Neither of them were concerned with their desires to go on exotic vacations.

What is location independence? It’s the freedom to go anywhere you want, whenever you want, for however long you want without having to ask anybody(except maybe your spouse).

This isn’t the sort of freedom that Christianity has ever taught. I have a family with children, and I have friends, family, church members, and customers who depend on me so that I can’t just take off whenever I want. Responsibility is not the opposite of freedom; it’s part of the same package. My commitments don’t take away my freedom as a result.

If you are so “free” that you can walk away from everything without impacting anyone, that’s more evidence that you are useless to those around you than that you have some sort of freedom.

If you can take your work with you anywhere in the world, then you are, simply put, location independent. This is my main priority at the time of writing this.

This bars you from being a doctor, a nurse, a construction worker, a plumber, an electrician, a farmer, a truck driver, a pilot, a factory worker, or any number of other jobs your presence is required for. Outside of technology, you don’t have a whole lot of opportunities here.

It’s important to keep in mind that adventure-seekers depend on the other 99% of people who work to keep toilets and lights working, research and apply medicine, extract the materials and food they consume, and operate the transportation they use. If even a measurable portion of society lived like this, it would be impossible. This sort of lifestyle depends on very few people taking it seriously.

It’s not even about not working. It’s about having options. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a “normal” job. If you enjoy it, keep doing it! But what would you do if you didn’t have to work? Maybe travel a lot. Maybe spend more time helping your church grow. Maybe raise your kids and be the biggest influence in their lives. Maybe join or start a nonprofit helping to make the world a better place. Or maybe you keep working because you enjoy it, and it gets even better when you choose to be rather than having to be there.

This is a totally postmodern view of work, and it is antithetical to Christianity. Earlier, the author of this article made a big deal about God’s “calling”. This is the meaning of the more historical “vocation”. But vocation doesn’t mean doing whatever you feel like doing and stamping God’s approval on it. Classically – as far back as the days of the Apostles and even before in Judaism – vocation was the work you did on behalf of others, for which payment was a symbol of the value you provided.

The author of this article is convinced that normal work is a necessary evil that we need to pursue to fuel our real desires. But even before sin entered the world in the garden, mankind was made for work. Our vocations are essential to our natures. Traveling around the world is a luxury resulting from our record-breaking wealth.

I have ideas of helping to set women and children free from sex slavery, giving orphaned children a home and a family, bringing the gospel to all corners of the Earth, saving the planet from environmental destruction, and so much more.

The author makes sure to include some pious things in the list of things he desires to do while globe-trotting. Else, it might sound selfish (a word that only appears once in an article that seems to be about nothing else, and which is immediately dismissed). The fact is, this guy knows nothing about sex trafficking, and travelling the globe is not how you stop it. As for “environmental destruction”, it’s ironic given his beliefs about this how much fuel he’ll be depending on.

There’s a lot I want to do with my life. And a lot of things are pretty much impossible if I’ve got to show up to my workplace in Grand Rapids every monday morning, ya know?

Showing up to work might be the vocation of virtually everyone else who has ever lived, but not for this guy. It’s just beneath his dreams of walking on the Great Wall and drinking coffee around the world. Oh, and stopping sex trafficking.

Maybe, as I travel across Thailand and work from my laptop in different cafes in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, I’ll be able to build relationships with baristas. Maybe a connection can be established over a genuine love for coffee and in those relationships I can bring the gospel to them because I’M THERE.

Just like the Apostle Paul, establishing churches by drinking coffee and sometimes talking about the Gospel with baristas. I’m sure these isolated experiences will produce healthy bodies of believers. Can you imagine ending sex trafficking and being a missionary all by drinking coffee in a bunch of coffee shops? Can’t do those things in the United States though, because the pictures on social media wouldn’t attract as many followers.

Maybe I’ll spend a few weeks backpacking in the Himalayas for no other reason than I want to. Do you need a spiritual reason to go and experience a beautiful corner of the earth that God created so perfectly? I don’t think so. I think wanting to go somewhere just to go somewhere is totally valid. And I want to be able to act on that.

Even if he can’t find a possible excuse for God to be his reason for going somewhere, he’ll still cram God in. It’s all about God! This is selfless.

I think God is raising up a people who can wake up in the morning, ask God what he wants them to do, and then go do it.

I think it’s a bit presumptuous to think God is raising people up to avoid commitments and responsibilities. This sounds a lot more like people raising their selfishness up by adding references to God every few sentences.

 Spend less(because let’s be honest, we Americans live ridiculous lives)

The irony of a wealthy American thinking God is calling him to travel the globe every day while simultaneously criticizing the way Americans live is not lost on me as it is on the author.

So what does Jesus actually call us to?

Suffering: “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Self-denial: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

The world’s hatred: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you”