3:10 Train To Zion

3:10 To Zion (12.23.13)

Will Convention Win In Contention City USA?

Imagine God before coming to earth as a man:

"Reckon I'll have to go down there and show them how to be human, and live right and peaceful all by myself."

TCM recently aired 3:10 To Yuma, a classic 1957 Western set in the Arizona territories of the 1880s. This film stars Glenn Ford as Ben Wade, head of the chief bandido group, and Van Helfin as the chinless, downpressed rancher Dan Evans, who reluctantly stands up in public for what's right.

Dan and his two boys, working at the edge of their drought-stricken ranch, witness a stage coach robbery gone bad, whereby Wade kills the brave coach driver as this driver kills one of his own men.

Ben Wade is taken into temporary custody.

But will anyone have the courage to take him on the 3:10 train to Yuma, to justice, knowing he's been srpung many times already?

Dan's boys and his wife want him to step up, but he wants to just mind his own business, and borrow another $200 from the bank.

At this point Director Delmer Daves does exceptionally well depicting the anointed effect that the faith of Dan's wife and boys have upon his willingness and capability to do this dangerous job. This devotion to him, and the $200 reward promised by the stage coach owner, and the valor of the newly deputized town drunk, all raise Dan's sights to accept his mission.

This film strikes me as a wake up for the likes of us "Christians" in these good ol' United States of late. We have mostly adopted the unbiblical notion that a good citizen is a good consumer, who minds his or her our own business.

This is Dan Evans' original stance.

All the while we have outsourced our public yearning for righteousness, to the banks who loan us more for our private dreams, to our politicians telling us tall stories, to the reigning political parties and Big Media pigeoning-hole us (and saying how bad the other guy is), to religious leaders who have perhaps forgotten how public our faith is meant to be.

And then we wonder why our voice as Christians is now being culturally eclipsed before our eyes?

We Christians are Spiritual heirs to the Jews. There was nothing more public than the individual biblical faith of the prophets, and kings and sages of Israel. Think of Moses who sees God in the burning bush, not for his own benefit, but so that he would go back to Egypt and lead the people out.

Think of Isaiah envisioning a messiah for Israel during the Babylonian exile and then writing about it for everyone. Think of Ezra, after the exile, re-broadcasting the newly found law of Israel, not privately for the Temple wonks, but  publicly for the benefit of the whole nation. 

Here at the end of 2013, heading to 2014, we Christians are sort of like Dan Evans before he got the call to stand up publicly for what's right. We can retreat huffing and puffing into our own little churches, and ideological cyberspaces, or we can start to speak up publicly wherever we are, sticking up for what's right.

Not leaving it to someone else, who we think has more power than we do.  

Jesus said "the meek, they shall inherit the earth."

Humility is not passivity.

Humility is the strength of each of God's people and all of them together.

Jesus didn't say "look at the passive consumers, they shall soon buy their way into the kingdom."

He said "blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they shall have their fill."

As Dan Evans was protecting Ben Wade for Yuma, one of the stage driver's kin bullrushed their hotel room in Contention City, aiming to take vengeance on Wade.

Instead of sitting back and letting it all happen, Evans wrestles for Wade's life and to get to the station on time.

As Wade's confederates stalk and shoot up their way, Dan and Ben finally get to the platform, and instead of choosing to die in the gunfire, or let Dan get killed, Wade jumps them both safely onto the train.

Christians in our good old USA- this is no time to mind our own business.

It's time for a gut check, a faith check, and to check the oil in our lamps.

It's time to start living out our faith convictions in public, and sowing the seeds of the gospel  while we still got time, while we still have the chance to care about what happens at the edge of our little ranch.

Faith in action, living by faith, is our ticket to the 3:10 train to Zion.

Sitting back minding our own business, taking another loan, or counting the 401K, and the church collection, how's that working for us?

Sure would hate if anyone of us missed the train, and where it goes.




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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.