I'm no longer a slave to fear.....
It's happened for the first time in 4 trips to Kolkata. But you'll be pleased to know that the Imodium is working a treat and got me through the morning at the youth conference. There were three very obvious things about the conference. It was very loud, there were lots of young people passionate about Jesus, and Benjamin would have done better to preach himself. He's very gracious but he didn't need me. The stop/start of being translated breaks the flow and interrupts the usual rise and fall of internation and expression. 200 youth sat patiently whilst I told them about their identity in Christ in bit size chucks, trying to inject some story and humour with very limited success. Everything takes twice as long when it has to be translated. It takes even longer when Benjamin is the translator as he tried to add a bit of embellishment along the way, including a mini sermon on George Muller, who I had mentioned, which produced loud cheers, enthusiastic clapping and a chorus of Amens. His mini sermon, not my mention just in case you were confused. I did finish on a quick crescendo moving as seamlessly as a patchwork quilt into playing the live version of 'No longer slaves' from the Bethel team.
'You unravel me, with a melody, you surround me with a song;
Of deliverance, from my enemies, til all my fears are gone.
I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.'
Have a listen, it's amazing. It's uplifting. I challenge you not to be inspired by it.
'You split sea so I could walk right through it.'
God is in the business of rescuing slaves. In the Exodus he called Moses to lead the children of God out of slavery through the Red Sea and into a land of freedom, flowing with milk and honey. And today he calls us. We have been liberated. Let us sing our freedom and share our freedom.
'My fears are drowned in perfect love.'
What do we really have to fear? I mean really? In our land of checks and balances, a system if justice that 999/1000 upholds the rule of law and a good national health service (come here of you are concerned about the state of the NHS! The people here would give their right arm, so to speak, for a health service like ours). I don't even fear getting old.
But I saw an old, frail blind man begging in the road in the midst of Kolkata traffic today. What would he give for the NHS, an old age pension and a free bus pass? I don't fear arsenic poison or parasites in my drinking water. I don't fear religious persecution. And even if we do have things to be fearful of we can, like John Donne, the poet and former Dean of Paul's Cathedral, pray that God would give us 'the fear of which we need not be afraid' - the fear of God.
'He rescued me, so I can stand and sing
I am a child of God.'
We have very little to fear having been rescued by a loving God and living in our secure homes, in our peaceful law abiding, and generally caring naton.
And to the one who been given much, much will be asked (Luke 12:48).
I actually saw Luke 12:48 in action yesterday. Ben bought a balloon from a street child for Rs 100 (that's about £1.00). Very generous. Laddie thought all his Chritmas's had come at once - and so did 3 of his friends who he shared his good news with. They waited patiently for at least an hour for us to come out of the coffee shop. It was like a scene from 'Up' as they surrounded Ben on the 5 minute walk to the car. That'll larn ya, buh. Of you, much, much has be asked!
Now, about that sermon at Carey Baptist church......