Do you know that to be true of yourself? That you have no lasting or real home here and that your real home is in heaven? If that is not true of you, you are not a Christian. If it is true but you just do not know that it is true, then, although you may be a Christian, you are not a pilgrim. The Apostle Peter is speaking to you when he writes, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such godly lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11, 12). 

Most people today want to think of themselves as peaceful and peace loving. But they are not. None of us is. On the contrary, we are warlike people, and the proof of it is seen in our fierce competition and fights with other people, and in our anger and grief when others are more successful than we are or are preferred before us. 

At first glance, Psalm 120 seems a strange psalm with which to begin this series, or even have in it, since it does not mention Jerusalem or even contain the thought of going there. Still, it is not inappropriate in this context, for it begins with the feelings of homesick people settled in a strange land and thus sets the tone for the joyful upward journey reflected in the psalms that follow.

These fifteen psalms (Psalms 120-134) seem to have been used by pilgrims who were making their way to Jerusalem for the three great annual feasts. Joseph and Mary would have sung these psalms as they made their way to the city with the young Jesus (Luke 2:41), and Jesus would have sung them himself when he went up to Jerusalem with his disciples. 

Christianity is a “long obedience” religion, and if we do not know that about it, we know very little about Christianity. In fact, if we are not in it for “the long haul,” we are not even Christians.