Much has been written the last two days about the pending fate of the man who made this statement to Afghani authorities when threatened with hanging if he does not recant his Christian faith. I and many others have written passionately about what we should do to try to keep this from happening. I still believe that we should try to stave it off with every resource at our disposal.
Jesus never promised, however, that if we followed Him, we would not be persecuted. In fact the opposite is true. He told us that if the world hated Him, it would hate us as well. The Sermon on the Mount pronounces a blessing upon those who suffer for the sake of Christ. We should realize that this world, corrupted by sin, strangely resists the One who is capable of forgiving sin. In that resistance, the anger of the world is directed at those who identify themselves as believers.
The simple fact is, the Gospel is offensive. Because of its proclaimation that Jesus is the only way to eternal life, it grates against the pride of those who are trusting in mere religion. In that it denies the ability of man to justify himself before God, it declares all men as lost and on their way to eternal damnation.
We should not be surprised when this leads to violent persecution. This does not mean that we should develop a “martyr’s complex” or seek after persecution, but it does mean that we should face it with the grace and peace of God filling our hearts. With the apostles and countless persecuted brethren since, we should count it a joy to be considered worthy to suffer with Christ.
At the risk of sounding calloused, this is a win-win situation for Bro. Rahman. If his life is spared, then he has additional opportunity to serve God. If he dies, he enters into victorious, eternal life. If the Afghan government relents and releases him, this may open the crack in Afghanistan just a little wider so that the Gospel may take a little stronger foothold. If he dies for the sake of the Gospel, others will be drawn to Christ. History has proven that this is the product of martyrdom.
In all of this, the question has come to me, “If I were in a country that placed a capital sentence upon being a Christian, would I be considered enough of a Christian to warrant persecution?”