Our near neighbor to the south said,
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad, 1869.
The year before the publication of The Innocents Abroad, in what is known as The American Abroad speech (1868), Twain is reported to have said,
“It liberates the vandal to travel–you never saw a bigoted, opinionated, stubborn, narrow-minded, self-conceited, almighty mean man in your life but he had stuck in one place since he was born and thought God made the world and dyspepsia and bile for his especial comfort and satisfaction.”
At first Jesus said, “Don’t travel—stay in Jerusalem.” But that’s not the same as being stuck in your own world. And that was only until they were given the power of God through the Spirit. Then it was Judea, Samaria and beyond.
For the Jews that was not merely a geographical challenge. That was an internal struggle of great magnitude. They believed the Kingdom of God was them…exclusively them. That was nothing God had ever said, but it’s what they heard. So, they shut their lives off from outsiders. Then, they shut the message off from outsiders. They didn’t “travel” outside their own.
It’s easy for that to happen, we become quite familiar with our world. We get comfortable with our world, even the discomfort of it. At least we know it and what to expect of it. We might complain about it, but it’s ours. No outsiders allowed. Then it happens. The Spirit of God opens the doors and windows to people who are different…different…different… you can almost feel it. And suddenly we realize our world is untraveled—small—nonnegotiable.
It cannot be…for it was the King Himself who said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and beyond.” Acts ends with Paul in prison…but the gospel isn’t. Acts ends on this word, “unhindered.”