Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Breaking the law

Convinced that his target was evil and had to be stopped by extraordinary means, our man assembled a plot to assassinate the enemy of the people. This enemy led a passionate group willing to die for their cause, and our man was equally willing to die to stop this enemy.

This set-up is not the start of some spy novel but a true story about a Christian man who felt called to murder for a cause.

Does it make you uncomfortable that a Christian would initiate such a plan?

A few days ago, Gary Faulkner of Colorado was arrested in Pakistan on such a mission: he planned to assassinate Osama Bin Laden. We know his brother personally and have followed this story with interest.

The question is whether a Christian should concoct a murder. I don't know the answer but I found an interesting historical parallel.

My opening paragraph could describe Gary's mission - or another well-know Christian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was arrested in Germany in 1941 for planning to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Read an excellent article on his life here.

Bonhoeffer could have stayed quiet but chose to defend the Jews in Germany against Hitler's horrific plans - and died for his commitment.

Although I think we have to be careful not to give ourselves permission to break laws will-nilly, as followers of Jesus we follow higher laws. Who knows what we may be called to do - and what sort of commitment we may have to make?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why persecution?

I've been captivated in recent weeks by Christians throughout the world enduring persecution.  Some face imprisonment. Some face death.  Simply for their spiritual convictions. 

My first response has been self-centered:  I hope I don't have to go through that.  I hope I have the courage to stand firm in the time comes.  And I feel guilty because I don't face jail time for teaching a Bible study or attending a worship service.

I am teaching a class right now where I'm trying to parallel the persecution of the early church with today's persecution.  The letter of I Peter is written to persecuted Christians in the first century and I'm trying to find truths that apply today.
Here's what I'm learning so far:  God is magnificent.  Life with him is so fulfilling and abundant that he's worth dying for.  He's worth sacrificing all for.  Remember that old hymn:  "I surrender all...."? Well, it encourages me to know that surrendering all for God is fulfilling.

When I hear about North Koreans treasuring scraps of the Bible and of Chinese pastors putting themselves back in jail rather than denouncing God, I realize they know God's value.  They know who God is.  That encourages me.

I may not face the level of persecution they face (or I may.  Who knows?) but I know God is so precious that life with him is better than life here.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18-19

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Maryam and Marzieh freed

Fourteen months after they were arrested for their Christian activities, Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh have been acquitted of all charges by the Iranian judicial authorities. However, they were warned that any future Christian activity in Iran will be dealt with seriously.

On May 22, they left Iran and arrived safely in another country. Sam and Lin Yeghnazar, founders of Elam Ministries and spiritual parents to Maryam and Marzieh, met them at the airport. "We are most grateful to everyone who prayed for us," said Marzieh. "The prayers of people encouraged and sustained us throughout this ordeal," Maryam said.

When Sam told them their example had encouraged countless people around the world, they were quick to respond, "We are frail human beings with many weaknesses. The honor and glory go to God who has kept and used us, although we don't know why he has chosen us. All the glory goes to him." (Source: Elam Ministries)