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October 25, 2010

Willing to pay the penalty for the crime of being a follower of Jesus

Here is today's devotion from VOM's group Extreme Devotion. Which has left me with the question, "Am I willing to gladly accept the penalty of naming the name of Jesus as my Lord and Savior?"

 


 

The Taliban. The name of the radical Islamic government of Afghanistan is now known throughout the world. Practicing Christianity has always been a crime in this oppressive nation run by the Taliban.

They didn’t want the children, the Afghan government decided. They wanted their fathers. The children were allegedly taught about Christianity and were subsequently arrested. Foreign groups who were allowed into the nation to distribute humanitarian aid had also brought in Christian books and materials. In many nations, humanitarian aid is the only open door to the gospel. However, the government quickly seized the materials.

The government decided that the children weren’t to blame for being exposed to the teaching. Their parents had failed to guide and care for their children. “The arrests should be a lesson to parents that they should watch their children and know what they are doing,” said the Taliban’s deputy minister for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice.

The official’s remarks came after eight foreign-aid workers were arrested in August of 2001 along with numerous Afghans who had worked for Christian organizations. As of November 2001, the foreigners are being tried for preaching Jesus Christ to Muslims, a charge that could bring a death sentence. The Afghan workers face a chance to return to Islam.

Yet they will be tried as apostates if they refuse. They also could face the death sentence.

At least two of the workers are American Christians, whose story of unjust punishment seems like a disaster in the making. However, what seems like a tragedy can actually turn out for God’s greater purposes. Just look at Jesus’ life. On the surface, Christ’s death appeared to be the worst thing that could happen. His ministry appeared to be over. However, God used his unjust punishment in order to bring us salvation. In the same way, the fact that these workers are willing to endure capital punishment in order to bring others the Good News has been heard around the world, bringing many to faith in Christ and inspiring other believers. Are you suffering under unjust circumstances? That’s God’s specialty.