Nicky Gumbel related how a young police officer was taking his final exam at Hendon Police College in north London. Here is one of the questions:
‘You are on a patrol in outer London when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street. On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van lying nearby. Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants – a man and a woman – are injured. You recognise the woman as the wife of your Divisional Inspector, who is at present away in the USA. A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance and you realise that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery. Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent. Another man is crying for help, having been blown into an adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim. – Bearing in mind the provisions of the Mental Health Act, describe in a few words what actions you would take. The officer thought for a moment, picked up his pen, and wrote: ‘I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd!’
We can sympathise with his answer, can’t we? As a Christian, it is often easier to take off our Christian uniform and mingle with the crowd. But we are called to be and remain distinctive, to retain our Christian identity, wherever we are and whatever the circumstances.
Nicky Gumbel, Alpha Questions of Life, 2007, Eastbourne: Kingsway Communications, p.220-221