Police and customs officials in my troubled country, Central African Republic, are often accused of corruption and other offences. Recently, the Lord put it on our hearts to visit people from these two services working at the airport in Bangui, the capital. As well as giving them all Bibles, I shared a passage from Luke 3 with them, focusing on repentance and starting afresh with God. They were very interested and thoughtful and asked a lot of questions. As this is a message that applies to everyone, I hope it blesses you too.
In the course of his ministry, John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, was asked about the issue of repentance by people from various different backgrounds. In his responses, John named three essential ingredients for true repentance: to stop sinning, to have faith in God, and to produce the fruits of that faith, such as living lives of justice, integrity, love and so on.
In Luke 3:12-14, people from two different professions – tax collectors and soldiers – who want to be baptised ask him what repentance will involve for them. He tells the tax collectors to stop taking more money than is legally due to them, and the soldiers to stop being violent and unjust and to be satisfied with their pay. In other words, he makes it clear that they can be washed clean by God if they turn to him in faith, turn away from any wrongdoing they are involved in and start behaving ethically.
This simple message by John the Baptist is one that we all need to hear and apply. Even if we’ve behaved destructively in the past, we are not condemned. God calls us to stop sinning and to rededicate ourselves to Him so that he can bring about a spiritual awakening in us. Our spirituality must root itself in God’s Word, which advises us to worship together, to pray, to study the Bible and to love and understand each other.
Here, as police and customs officials in Bangui airport, you are the first people to represent our country to visitors who arrive here. The stranger who arrives will judge our country through the way you speak and act towards them.
So, dear brothers and sisters, if you believe, like me, that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, take this passage from 2 Timothy 3:16 to heart:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living.
I pray that you will keep your Bibles close to you, and that you will read them, meditate on them and apply its message to your lives. That is how you will lead successful lives, producing the good fruit that comes from following God’s purposes for your life. May God bless you!
Many more people in Central African Republic need the Word of God but we are unable to provide a Bible for everyone. Please pray that we are able to find ways to get Bibles to those who need them the most.