Sunday, June 10, 2018

This Train

"This train don't carry no gamblers, this train."

A whole succession of famous folk, jazz, and country singers have performed the song "This Train" through past decades. Singers like Peter, Paul, and Mary; Randy Travis; Louis Armstrong; Bo Diddly; Sister Rosetta Tharp; Johnny Cash; Bunny Walker; Bob Marley; Woodie Guthrie; Ricky Nelson; Pop Winans; and many more. Pretty much a Who's Who of the music business.

According to which version you hear, this train "don't carry" no gamblers or liars or rustlers. No sidestreet walkers or two-bit hustlers. No racists. No jokers. No tobacco chewers or cee-gar smokers. 

Because this train is bound for Glory. And basically, nobody can ride this train but "the righteous and the holy." Which kind of leaves the rest of us standing at the station, looking lost and forlorn.

I love trains and I love the catchy tune of this song. But I'm so glad I don't share the theology of these lyrics. 

Jesus said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). 

I know I'm on a train bound for Glory. But this train don't carry nobody BUT gamblers, ramblers, low-lifes, and sinners. Sidestreet walkers and cigar smokers? Oh, yes! Liars, gossips, and adulterers are welcome. People with a past? Welcome to the First Class section of this train.

It's rather like the musical The Greatest Showman, when P. T. Barnum (something of a Christ-figure in this story) scours the countryside, rounding up all the freaks and misfits he can find. A bearded lady. A contortionist. Folks who are too big or too tiny or too unusual for polite society. Barnum gives them all honor and respect and a job to do in his new circus -- a reserved seat on his circus train.

Because the name of this train is Grace. It's not by our own works but only by the grace of God that any of us is ever bound for Glory.

And this is the craziest and most surprising plot twist in all of human history. It's the greatest story ever told.

"...Everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life" (John 3:16).


Photo credits:
    Cartoon train - © Can Stock Photo / umnola;
    Gamblers - Title: "The Cheaters," oil on canvas;
       Source/Photographer Mathieu Le Nain;
       This work is in the public domain in its country of origin 
        and other countries and areas where the copyright 
        term is the author's life plus 100 years or less;
    Train in Colorado - Author Richard Fogg - owner/Howard Fogg - artist;
        Permission: The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it 
        for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed;
    Antique train - © Can Stock Photo / C_L_Fox;
    Greatest Showman - theatrical poster;
    Girl at Train Station - © Can Stock Photo / NomadSoul1.


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