My father-in-law sold his house once he moved into an assisted living facility (although he tells everyone WE sold the house, WE sold his car, and now HE’s stuck! Got’ta love him!). As we were cleaning out the house, I took home quite a few books, including a rather small 1991 book by James W. Moore: Yes, Lord, I Have Sinned, But I Have Several Excellent Excuses. Unfortunately, I could relate.
Turns out, it’s quite a convicting little thing — this morning more than ever. He wrote that in the old West, stagecoaches had 3 kinds of tickets: first-class, second-class, and third-class. Who knew?
- First-class meant you could sit down no matter what. If trouble arose, you could sit while everyone else took care of it.
- Second-class meant that you could sit down until there was a problem; then you had to get off and watch until the problem was solved.
- Third-class meant that you could sit until there was a problem; then you had to get off and help fix it!
Far too many Christians have the first-class mindset or even the second-class mindset. But Jesus? Because of His first-class love, He chose the third-class ticket! And we should follow His example. “When trouble comes, when difficulties arise, when problems emerge, we must roll up our sleeves and go to work if we want to live in the Spirit of Christ.”
Pastor Moore included a quote by Martin Niemoeller, an anti-Nazi German Lutheran who was imprisoned in concentration camps from 1937-1945. He is most famous for his poetic prose “First They Came.” Niemoeller created various versions of his poem. Here is the version that is enshrined in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
With today’s attack against Christians worldwide and against millennia-old Biblical beliefs, Niemoeller’s quote struck a particular chord with me. We can no longer sit in first-class, my friends. We must choose the third-class mindset and stand up for Christians everywhere, while at the same time having a first-class love for all people, even those — especially those — who are the attackers. Love them, but stand up against what they are doing; be grace seasoned with salt.
If we do not get out of the coach and help fix the problem, then when they come for you, when they come for me, will there be anyone left to help?