In the news of late is the impending execution of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Many political leaders from around the world are calling for the Iranian government to change their decision on Pastor Nadarkhani’s execution. Nadarkhani has refused to recant his Christian faith.
In the name of religious freedom, and the freedom to practice the beliefs that one wishes, these political and Christian leaders are correct. As far as human rights go, everyone should have the freedom to practice what they believe.
But in the name of Christianity, I think we have forgotten some things. We in the western world live with comforts that we were never promised. We live with religious freedom and attitudes of tolerance. Most of us don’t know what it’s like to choose Christ, Or. Christ, or your family? Christ, or your freedom? Christ, or your comforts? Christ, or your life?
For much of the world, the choice to follow Christ is truly “though none go with me, still I will follow.” It’s not about exercising religious freedom, it’s about giving your life in that moment of decision. The moment you decide to follow Christ, you give your life. The decision has already been made. Christ. Should your family disown you, Christ. Should you lose your freedom, your comforts, or even your life, Christ.
I can’t help but wonder. How would my salvation be different if my decision had been Christ, Or…? For many of us, the decision is “Christ, And.” Had I known that making the decision would cost me my family or my life, how would my decision, and day-to-day commitment to Christ, be different?
Pastor Nadarkhani should not be viewed as a casualty of Iranian policies or a victim of the lack of freedoms there. Democracy is not the answer to persecution. Nadarkhani made the decision, each day, to live for Christ, regardless of the outcome. The persecution he faces is a testimony to the fact that Christ is more important, and dedication to Christ more valuable, than his own life.
May we stand with Nadarkhani in the coming days, whether he is released and allowed to continue his ministry, or he gives his life for the cause of Christ. And may we each remember that by making a decision for Christ, we are to value our decision with the same weight as Nadarkhani and other persecuted Christians around the world have.
My prayer is certainly that Pastor Nadarkhani will be released and allowed to continue his ministry, and also that the Lord will speak to him as he awaits a decision. And may we pray that the spread of the Gospel will continue, and that Pastor Nadarkhani would be used in a miraculous way to bring Jesus to the nation of Iran.