To Deny or to Die: That is the Question

Posted on 06 March 2012

martyrheadPastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been sentenced to death by the Iranian government for converting to Christianity. He became a pastor in the Iranian city of Rasht and was convicted of apostasy in 2010. He would not recant his Christian faith and was thereby condemned to death. Numerous world leaders have expressed their concern and outrage while others retort that Iran has complete sovereignty over who they put to death and Christians have killed many in their time, turnabout is fair play.

But let’s take the high road in this event because that is certainly what this husband, father, pastor, and yes, Christian is doing. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A man who hasn’t found something he is willing to die for is not fit to live.” If you consider Pastor Nadarkhani’s predicament, he chose to die rather than deny. He is truly fit to live, like a mother willing to die in childbirth to give life, a soldier willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield for the freedom of generations to come, a youngster who goes out on an icy lake to save a beloved, flailing pet only to drown.

No one who persecutes anyone for their beliefs is capable of living a tremendous life. In fact, the gospel of Christ declares that His sacrificial death was an unconditional act of obedience to God’s ultimate love and is a gift we are all free to accept or reject. The heart of Christianity is about unconditional love and sharing the gift. If I kill you because you don’t accept my gift, what does that say about me? But if I love the gift you gave me so much that I am willing to die for it rather than deny it, what does that say about the giver and the gift?

The Holy Bible states, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In the case of this pastor, I would say he has found the true meaning of life; a love that transcends everything, to include bowing to the demands of those who seek to take his life. We live life for a time and then face death.  How much more tremendous can our lives become when we discover that the true meaning of “a life worth living” is intricately linked to “something worth dying for?”

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  • traceyjones: February 20, 2016

    Thanks for your comment Mark! And yes, this does serve to give us pause to stop and consider what we value more than ourselves. Very interesting insight about how the press views them as curiousities. May we all feel the true cost of anyone who tries to silence another beliefs as very real, and not so distant.

  • Mark Armstrong: February 20, 2016

    Wonderful post, Tracey. I had not heard about this particular case, they seem to be so common in the Middle East. When I read about people like Pastor Nadarkhani, I feel ashamed that my own faith seems so lukewarm. I’m also filled with rage that people dying for their faith are treated like curiosities by the press, and that cases like this will do nothing to change the political correctness that says Muslim “quirks” must be respected, while Christians— being intolerant fascists— remain fair game.

    Fortunately, we’ve been warned: “If the world hates you, remember that the world hated me first.” (Jn 15:18) Christians are in good company. Onward! : )

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