Monday, July 18, 2022

Trail-Blazers, Path-Finders, Tag-Alongs, Drag-Alongs, Sojourners, Pilgrims, and Faithful Path-Walkers

By Gerald Cowan


    Jesus is the only Trail-Blazer, the one true Way. Others – patriarchs and prophets, up to and including John the baptist – only prepared the way for him, but when he came he was and remains The Way, the final and only way to God. John 14:6

    Apostles are Path-Finders and Guides on the one true path, the narrow and restricted path which is, since Pentecost, the New Way in the church of the Lord Jesus. There is another kind of path- finder too: the one who searches, studies, compares, and makes personal choices and commitments to the truth he finds in the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).

    Probably from the beginning the church has been burdened with Tag-Alongs – curiosity-seekers, casual and occasional visitors, convenience-minded but never fully committed. They are the “I will go with you if you are going, but I’m not going on my own” group. There’s another group, even less likely to become effectively involved and committed to the church, the drag-alongs.

    Drag-Alongs are just what the term implies. They won’t get in the path or stay in it except under duress; they must be forced into compliance. These include mostly children of Christian parents, but they only come until they can break free from parental authority. Spouses of members also fit in this group. They come only in order to have some kind of peace with the mate – most often these are husbands trying to “make nice” with a wife they don’t really want to lose or alienate. Christian parents and spouses usually hope that if they can keep the drag-alongs coming they may actually become knowledgeable and interested and grow into committed members too.

    Sojourners are persons who stay in one place temporarily, moving about from place to place, with no fixed long-term residence or commitment. Sojourner is not a bad word. There is a sense in which all Christians are sojourners (1 Peter 1:17). Work and other constraints often keep people on the move in current society. Faithful Christians will attend and be involved with the church wherever they are at any time. But the other kind of sojourners can be a burden to the church. They are church-hoppers, staying only as long as their desires and likes are met, but quick to move on when they aren’t.  They are sometimes like sheep, nibbling their way along, changing direction according to the greenness of the grass in one place or another.

    Pilgrims – every religion has them. Some of them want to make an occasional visit to some significant place or to the “homeland.”  For example, some want to visit “the Holy Land” (that is a serious misnomer, because there is no land truly holy to God now as the land of Israel once was). But there are places and relics of historical interest and meaning because of some biblical person or event. Such places are not relevant to the Biblical religion now except as historical or traditional (more often than not commercial) curiosities. But the proper meaning of Christian pilgrims is this: our true homeland is heaven, to which we have never been and cannot go until we pass through death of the body, resurrection and judgment and eventual reassignment as residents of God’s eternal heaven. That is our homeland (Phil. 3:20-21), the home of the soul to which we are going if we keep faith with God through The Way, Jesus Christ (John 14:1-6). 

    Path-Walkers is another self-explanatory term. If we walk with the Lord in the light of His word He keeps us clean (1 John 1:7-9). Of course, there is more to it than just continuing to “be a Christian” and attend “services” of the church. Faithfulness in personal worship, service, and stewardship (1 Cor. 4:2), growth in knowledge and grace (2 Peter 3:18), staying within the bounds that mark the path – all of this and more is expected of one who walks in the pathway of righteousness and duty. Path-walkers are not skin-deep Christians, not even bone-deep. Their relationship with God through Christ is spirit-deep, all the way into the soul.

- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at

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