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Wednesday, 14 July 2010


We are spending a couple of days with our dear friends, the Trabers, in the Stuttgart area. They have moved to a new home since our last visit, and it has a wonderful view. One of the major features is a railway bridge that crosses the valley, very close to where they are.

I have enjoyed watching the trains cross over the bridge. There have been different types of traffic. The majority of trains have been goods trains, hauled by electric or diesel locomotives. As far as I can make out, they are hauling goods waggons between two marshalling yards. They are, therefore important in the general transport of goods and materials.

There have also been a number of local passenger trains - ferrying people around the Stuttgart area. Occasionally, I have seen a train from the national rail network - sleek, aero-dynamic, silver and blue - taking people much longer distances. Once in a while, there has been a lone locomotive - doing nothing other than moving itself from one place to another.

As I've watched, I've realised that I have been watching a picture of some different kinds of Christian. There are always going to be the few loners - doing nothing for anyone else; looking after themselves; intent only on ensuring that they get themselves to their desired destination. Thankfully, like the solo locomotives, they are not in any great number!

Then there are those who hold positions of national leadership. These are the well-known personalities who have many followers. They may travel vast distances; they are often very-well dressed, sophisticated, and sleek. Nothing wrong with any of that - as long as they, themselves, are walking close to Jesus!

Yet others are like the local train. They may be likened to pastors of local fellowships. Nothing too flash, but helping many people on their journey through life - and faith!

Thankfully, the majority of disciples of Jesus are like the goods trains, shunting backwards and forwards. The journey may sometimes seem repetitive - even humdrum! But these are the people who are of great importance as they carry the message of the Gospel to ordinary people - in their workplaces; where they enjoy their leisure; among their families and neighbours. Nothing particularly exciting about some of that - but it's where the work of the church is really done!

Some seem to think that a pastor/minister is there to do all of the work. However, referring to "pastors and teachers", Paul writes that "Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ." (Eph 4:11-13). In other words, it is the church - each and every member - that is responsible for the proclamation of the Gospel.

The question is - "Where in the network are you; where am I?" We should be happy to be the goods trains; doing the basic work of the Lord in our own day.

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