Following Jesus 161

Following Jesus: The Progress of the Pilgrim.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and Faithful were bad-mouthed and heckled as they entered the city known as Vanity Fair. As pilgrims who marched to the beat of a different drummer, Christian and Faithful looked (dressed) and spoke differently — something to which the townsfolk took great exception. It is interesting that it was, in particular, their speech that caused such offense.

Talk of holy things always offends, but it had been holy conversation of this kind from poor women in Bedford, England that had been the means to bring young John Bunyan to repentance. Consequently, in Bunyan’s story, Christian and Faithful are taken, beaten, and incarcerated (something Bunyan, of course, knew only too well).

They are eventually charged with disturbing the peace of the city by their lack of conformity to the standards of Vanity Fair. Bunyan’s choice of names here is deliciously instructive: Mr. Hate-Good as the Judge, and jurors who include such characters as Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Cruelty, and Mr. Hate-light! If such charges were brought against us, would there be sufficient evidence to convict?

Vanity Fair, or the hostile world system, is under the dominion of Satan (John 5:19; 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). The world is his sphere of influence. In much the same way, the spirit of the antichrist which is coming, is even now, already in the world (I John 4:3) along with many false prophets who have gone out into the world (I John 4:1). Vanity Fair, the world, is an all-inclusive term for all those who the in the kingdom of darkness and have not been born of God (John 3:3).

The world does not understand the children of God (I John 5:19), just as the world did not, and does not, understand Jesus Christ (I John 3:1-2). Vanity Fair does not understand nor know God the Father (John 17:25).

Therefore, the church and Vanity Fair are in sharp contrast. At least biblically, they ought to be. They are two distinct groups. They are two separate groups. The church is under the dominion of God, knows God and is born of God. The other is under the dominion of Satan, who stands condemned (John 12:31; 16:11).

What does God’s Word say about this place Bunyan calls Vanity Fair? First of all, God gives us a warning about Vanity Fair or the world.

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