Get Out and Help Push

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There wasn’t much glamor associated with stagecoach travel in the Old West.
The “roads” were dusty, miserable, and subject to radical changes of elevation.  The food was lousy.  The weather inside the coach was pretty much the same as the weather outside.  In the pre-shock absorber era, sleep was nearly impossible.  And there was always the potential drama of an encounter with hostile native Americans or marauding outlaws. 
At least those riding in a nine-passenger Concord stagecoach could exercise one option when it came to privilege and comfort.   
According to historian Roger M. Dillingham, a number of travel companies offered three classes of tickets.  
If you paid top dollar for a first-class ticket, you were entitled to sit.  No matter what happened, no one could force you to leave your seat.  Methodist lay pastor Jerry Babitz observes, “If the stagecoach got stuck in the mud or had trouble making it up a steep hill, or even if a wheel fell off, you remained seated because you had a first-class ticket.”
Second-class ticketholders, on the other hand, were required to vacate their seats from time to time – perhaps to walk alongside the coach when it needed to negotiate a stretch of sand or a shallow stream, or when the horses simply needed a break.  If repairs were necessary, a second-classer was free to stand off to one side and watch while others did the work.
A third-class ticket entitled you, in sports parlance, to one of the cheap seats.  You got to sit all right – right up until there was a problem. 
Third-classers then had to hop off the coach, roll up their sleeves, and help push.  Or lift.  Or help move the fallen tree or the loose rocks that were blocking the road.  And you had to do so without complaining. 
Over the years, people have entertained some funny ideas about what it means to follow Jesus.  One of them is that Christianity is like being granted a first-class ticket through life.  Because of God’s grace we get to sit and watch and enjoy the view.  When problems arise – well, “we have people who take care of such things.”
Jesus, of course, would dismiss that out of hand.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). 
There are no entitlements in the company of those who follow the Messiah.  We all hold third-class tickets.  That’s because our Master spent his life knee-deep in the problems of the Least, the Last, and the Lost.  He calls us to do the same. 
Paul makes things considerably more interesting by adding one of the great Are You Kidding Me? verses in the New Testament:  “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14). 
At present, American churches aren’t renowned for cultivating a spirit of servanthood.  Nor can they be described as Bicker-Free Zones.
But we still have miles to go on our trip through the Wild West of the 21st century.  It’s not too late to make up your mind to be a “working passenger.” 
What’s the right response the next time things in your part of the world break down?
Get out, roll up your sleeves, and help push.