LETTER TO A YOUNG CHRISTIAN – No. 1
(These letters were written to a young Christian working on an exploratory rig some 200 miles out in the North Sea).
It was a pleasant surprise to be handed your envelope by LÂ— on my way down to breakfast this morning, and find that it enclosed another generous gift of thirty pounds. Truth to tell, I had felt rather disappointed at your returning to duty without first paying me a visit in your usual way, but concluded that other matters had detained you. In view of the spiritual bond
the Lord has been forging between us in recent months, I thought that I might hear from you while you were on the rig. I see that I was not mistaken! May the Lord reward you for your liberality according to His promise in Proverbs 22.9 “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.”
Your experience of being accused of unsociableness by your crane-operator and others is one common to Christians who refuse to spend their spare time keeping the company and following the pursuits of worldlings. I was very conscious of being regarded in a similar way during my rather lengthy tour at R.A.F. Pitreavie Castle, where I held the rank of Sergeant and consequently had to live with other airmen and sailors of the same rank in the Sergeants’ Mess. In that rather enclosed community – similar to that on an oil rig – any person who did not join the other R.A.F. Senior NCOs and R.N. Petty Officers in attending the Mess dances, watching the Mess television, or sopping-up the Mess bar, stood out like a sore thumb! In my case, the men rarely ridiculed me to my face: their contempt was usually expressed behind my back: I still remember one evening when a dance was being held in the Sergeants’ Mess at R.A.F. Turnhouse. Not having gone to the function, I was in bed and asleep before most of the other members of the Mess returned. Being awakened by the noise made by some of the R.A.F. Sergeants who had rooms on my floor, I had to lay awake for some while listening to the conversation of two or three men who were standing outside my door. I discovered that I was the chief subject of their conversation, and shall never forget the ridicule they poured on my name!
But let us not be discouraged from following and confessing Christ, or allow Satan to persuade us that such accusations and ridicule prove that we are somehow at fault. Our blessed Lord has assured us that, when the world persecutes His people, it is treating them as it treated Him, and testifying that His people no longer belong to it. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 16.18,19). Remember, too, that He pronounces us “Blessed” when men “shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake, for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5.11,12). Ask the Lord to enable you to “give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that
is in you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3.15), but avoid arguing with men whose only desire is to condemn. Concentrate on keeping a good conscience before God,”..that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” (1 Peter 3.16).
As I hope to see you again next Tuesday, God willing, I must not yield to the temptation to turn this letter into a treatise. Rest assured that you are much in our thoughts and prayers. Your friend and brother in Christ,
21st June, 1983