The Word on the Week

Col. Gadafy

The smell of freedom blowing across the Mediterranean has reached Libya. To those rulers who have ruled by force it awakened their animal instincts for survival but to their subjects it has subdued terror and replaced it with the hope of victory. Gadafy’s 42 year rule draws to a close. In his stage managed appearance before the media this week he blew kisses to those remaining loyal him and urged them to fight to the death. “Every individual will be armed,” he said. “Libya will become a hell.” With reserves of mustard gas, that Iraq’s ‘Chemical Ali’ would have coveted, he has the capability to fulfill his own prophecy. The dream he cherished in 2008 of a unified Muslim Africa, when he invited 200 African kings and tribal chiefs to celebrations marking his coronation as the continents ‘King of Kings’, has gone. His oil money which funded and armed many African dissident groups was not limited to his own continent. He shared his weaponry with rebels in the Middle East, Colombia and even our IRA. Now that the rescue of those Americans wishing to leave Libya has taken place, the danger of hostage taking has receded enabling the US to impose financial sanctions. These may not bother Gadafy but the US is also going after the assets of his aides. This is likely to increase the number of defectors hastening the end of the dictatorship. What has the Bible to comment on all this? St Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth, used the illustration of a returning Roman legion entering the city with their captives in chains. The smell of the incense meant two different things. To the conquering soldiers it spelled victory. To the prisoners it was the smell of death. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.” 2 Corinthians chapter 2 verses 14 to 16. In Libya the smell of freedom means two things. To the Libyan people it spells victory. To Gadafy and those loyal to him it is the smell of death. His African notion of King of Kings is a title better suited to the One to whom one day “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”. Freedom from a dictator’s rule is precious but does not compare with the freedom from the power of sin in the heart of the individual. It would be a tragedy if, on gaining one sort of freedom they were to remain mastered by a worse bondage. Only faith in the work of Christ on the cross can give true liberty: – “If the Son shall set you free you will be free indeed”. St John Chapter 8 verse 36. This freedom from sins guilt and power is available to all who put their trust in Jesus whether we are Libyan, you or me.