The Sirens Night And Day

Our house is on the side of a hill which slopes down to the town centre. Below us to the left, just by the roundabout, is the North West Ambulance Service. Further down, at the bottom of the flyover, is the Police Station. Just up the hill opposite is the Fire Station, clearly visible from the kitchen window.  

Sounds from in and around the town centre come up to us with amazing clarity. Depending upon the prevailing wind, it can seem as though they’re coming from just a few hundred yards away.

As a result, we get to hear an awful lot of sirens, ululating, whining and wailing, both by night and by day. And, given the nature of the town in which we live, the police helicopter and the Air Ambulance helicopter are fairly frequent flyers overhead.

Do we mind these noises? No, not really. You get used to them - after a fashion - and you know that they’re necessary. Important warnings need to be noticed and heeded, even if some find them intrusive and inconvenient.

Yesterday morning, I spent a couple of hours with Mike Gilbert in Skipton, giving out tracts which he’d written for the occasion; they had an attractive poppy illustration on the front, and a serious gospel message on the back, in the style of a postcard home from a soldier at the Front.

Several people have spoken to me recently about how hard it is for the church in Clitheroe and Skipton, where prosperous people go about their business with no thought for their eternal destiny and where no one wants to listen to anything to do with the gospel.

Two hundred tracts went out out in far less time than it would have taken in most of the other places I’ve visited recently, along with supplementary tracts from Living Waters and lots of Salem Chapel leaflets. The only ‘opposition’ I encountered was from a man who tried to sell me a supposedly humorous magazine, filled, according to him, with dirty jokes, and a local Baptist, who suggested - rather sniffily - that tracts “should be all about love, that would be better than asking people whether they were good or not.” I suspect that he was not of the Reformed persuasion.

Later, in the café, we discussed yet again our strange reluctance to step outside the doors of the church these days, and the sad consequences of listening to those other kind of sirens: the sweet voices singing of the safety of staying within four walls, the wisdom of not wanting to upset anyone, the madness of using old methods that are no longer acceptable and quite probably illegal in this age of frightful persecution, when - who knows - we might all be dragged from our beds and taken off to the Tower without trial if we attract any attention to ourselves.

Colossians 1.28: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”

John Gill comments.

Whom we preach.... Under the above considerations; as the riches, the glory, and the mystery of the Gospel; as the hope set before lost sinners to lay hold upon; as the only Saviour and Redeemer, by whose righteousness believers are justified, through whose blood their sins are pardoned, by whose sacrifice and satisfaction atonement is made, and in whose person alone is acceptance with God: Christ and him crucified, and salvation by him, were the subjects of the ministry of the apostles; on this they dwelt, and it was this which was blessed for the conversion of sinners, the edification of saints, the planting of churches, and the setting up and establishing the kingdom and interest of Christ: warning every man; of his lost state and condition by nature; of the wrath to come, and the danger he is in of it; of the terrors of the Lord, and of an awful judgment; showing sinners that they are unrighteous and unholy, that their nature is corrupt and impure, their best righteousness imperfect, and cannot justify them before God; that they stand guilty before him, and that destruction and misery are in all their ways; and therefore advise them to flee from the wrath to come, to the hope set before them in the Gospel.

Strangely enough, Gill doesn’t say anything about being careful not to annoy, disturb or dismay people in the process.

Paul writes: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.” (Philippians 1.27-28)

The sirens night and day may not sing sweetly in the ear; but it is sometimes necessary to sound the alarm, when you’re engaged in the serious business of saving lives.