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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

It's the police!!

It was just an hour or so ago. I was sitting in my study, my open Bible in front of me. The telephone rang and, as my dear wife was out, I answered. It was the police! To be more precise, it was a Sergeant from 'Q' Division of Strathclyde Police. He had 'phoned me in order to let me know that he would be away on a training course for the next couple of days and, after having passed on this information (I was wearing my Force Chaplain hat!), he proceeded to have a friendly chat with me.

How different, I thought, as I eventually hung up the handset, from the situation in more than 50 countries around the world today! In those countries - North Korea; Iran; Saudi Arabia; Somalia, the Maldives; to name just the five worst ones - a call from the police would not have meant an exchange of information and pleasantries, but arrest, imprisonment (without trial), torture, and even death. And all because I had a Bible!

This morning, I have already joined with thousands, and tens of thousands, in praying for two young women - Maryam and Marzieh - in Iran who, today, are in court facing charges of "propogating Christianity" and "apostasy" (from Islam). As I sat in the relative safety of my study, I wondered if I could ever be charged with such "crimes" and, if I was, whether or not there would be sufficient evidence to convict me?!

The British parliamentary and judicial systems are, undoubtedly, far from perfect. However, let those of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus be grateful that, at this time, we may still own - and even read - the Bible; that we may meet together, openly, for worship and fellowship; that we may share the Gospel message with those with whom we come into contact, without fear of punishment. Let us also seek to be built up in our faith, so that if persecution should come to our own land, we might show the same steadfastness, and loyalty to Jesus, as do Maryam and Marzieh - and millions of others around the world. And let us be faithful in our prayerful support of our those who are our rothers and sisters in Christ, remembering the words of Jesus, as recorded by Matthew:

"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left.

Then the King will say to those on the right, `Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison, and visit You?' And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, `Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons! For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me no clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' Then they will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?' And He will answer, `I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life
." (25: 31-46).

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