Before the railroad, Americans on the move traveled by stagecoach. Given the relative ease of modern-day transportation, it’s difficult to imagine just how uncomfortable it must have been to be jammed inside a small open-air compartment and bounced along an unpaved rocky road on wooden wheels. We can get a sense of the atmosphere, though, by some of the “rules” that were posted inside each coach.
Here’s a sampling:
Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and un-neighborly.
In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry coyotes.
Perhaps of greatest interest to me, though, was the fact that travelers on the stage had a choice of three levels of tickets: first, second or third class.
How is it possible that the service inside such a small space could warrant three separate class distinctions?
Obviously, a third-class ticket was the least expensive option. In the event that the stage broke down or got stuck in a ditch, which regularly happened, third-class passengers were required to get out and help push. Second-class travelers were also required to get off, but they were just asked to walk alongside the stage. First-class passengers were permitted to stay inside the coach and didn’t have to do a thing, relying on others to resolve any problem.
What class ticket would you have purchased?
In thinking about how this applies to modern-day life, it struck me:
As Christians who enjoy all the perks and privileges of being God’s very own, we have received a free first-class ticket – but we should be the first to step off the stage and help push!
That’s one of the most wonderful and mysterious realities about the Christian life. In fact, it turns the wisdom of the world upside down:
“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it” (Matthew 16:25).
Am I flaunting the gift of God’s grace or am I gratefully receiving it and serving others in return?