Really Useful Engines

I'm not a big fan of 'Thomas the Tank Engine theology'. It happens a lot in churches. People are only valued for what they do or their level of usefulness.

On the Island of Sodor, Thomas the Tank Engine's home, the engines are for the most part happy and contented little things... as long as they are working hard and being busy, but most importantly, following the orders of the Fat Controller.

The Fat Controller is King. He runs the show and tells everyone what to do. In one of our stories, he tells Thomas to go and pick up some new carriages.

"But..." says Thomas.

And, "Really Useful Engines don't argue," says the Fat Controller sternly, and Thomas wheeshes off sulking under his breath.

The engines have little opportunity to show initiative or individuality of thought. They certainly don't take holidays. Busy is best!

Sometimes it's easy to get into Thomas mode in church, where we all obey the minister, follow orders and don't think too much. As long as we're keeping busy and doing what we're told, we're valued, by the church and by God, apparently.

To a certain extent, of course church life must be a little bit like the Island of Sodor, in that we all have gifts we can use for the good of each other. Working together is better than individually. We are a body, and we are not to be lazy, in our lives or in our salvation. The trouble comes when we forget about rest, initiative, respect for all and the fact that we are all unique.