Have you heard about Yousef Nadarkhani? Outside of the religious press there has only been little coverage from the mainstream media, aside from a story on Fox and CNN, about Nadarkhani and his plight. You see Nadarkhani is a Christian and lives in Iran. Currently he is in an Iranian prison under a death sentence for charges of “Apostasy”, or telling others about Christ in a country where Islam is the state religion.
In a ruling contrary to both international treaties and the Iranian constitution, Nadarkhani was arrested and tried in Iranian courts for holding Christian beliefs and teaching others about Christ. Nadarkhani was told by court officers three times to renounce his faith and embrace Islam and he refused each time. Now Nadarkhani sits in an Iranian jail and awaits finding out if his sentence will be carried out or not.
Nadarkhani is willing to die for his faith.
I want to have faith like that.
I am reminded of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who when faced with the option of bowing down and worshiping the king’s idol refused and were sentenced to death. Not just any death but being burned alive in a fiery furnace. I can’t think of a much more barbaric way to die than to be burned alive, yet all three men stood firm and refused to worship anyone but God. Knowing that a death sentence was upon what do the men say to the king?
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 (New International Version)
I love their answer to the king. They had faith to believe that God could rescue them from death, but even if God choose not to do so, they were accepting of death for their faith. Either option was acceptable to them for they were ready for whichever one it might be.
I want faith like that.
I want faith that is not just Romans 1:16 faith, but 2 Timothy 1:8 faith. Faith that stands in the face of a decision and chooses to stand tall and does not back down. Faith that doesn’t worry what the neighbors or co-workers, or even family and friends might think. Faith that is willing to either be rescued from the fire or die in it for the cause of Christ.
I want faith like that. Do you??
“So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News”. 2 Timothy 1:8 (New Living Translation)