The Jouney 57: Transformed Living
Read: Luke 5: 1-11
Key Verse: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” [ Mathew 5: 11]
What does it cost you to practice your faith? For many of us who think we are practicing our faith there is nothing we have lost nor have paid any sort of price, on the contrary we have only prospered, both in wealth and in health. But listen to the witness of a pastor in Iran—Youcef Nadarkhani. He has been in the news this week because a trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, condemning him to be put to death for being a Christian. Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old is a father of two, and he was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani never practiced the Muslim faith and became a Christian at the age 19, later becoming a pastor. But the courts say that since his mother and father were practicing Muslims, he must recant his Christian faith or die. So far, in three court appearances, he has refused to do so - thus risking execution at any moment. Sometimes the Iranian Supreme Court acts quickly in administering the death penalty. During the trial, when Youcef Nadarkhani was asked by judges to "repent," Youcef replied: "Repent, What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"
The judges replied: "To the religion of your ancestors." To which Yousef replied: "I cannot." Today this pastor stands as witness who is ready to pay the ultimate price that any human being can give– His Life; as a mark of his commitment to the Lord and also to uphold his faith.
From this week we make a slight change in the theme of the devotions. From now on we shall meditate on one theme every week rather than every day. This week we shall meditate on how we can bring about transformation in our personal life. This week we are meditating on the life and times of Simon Peter, the first followers of Jesus Christ. When Simon Peter drops the net again, he is astonished at the catch that he got. He realized that he is standing before the Lord and he tell Jesus, that he is a sinner. That is when Jesus gives him a new mission in life “ Don’t be afraid, from now on you will catch men” and then you find that these poor fishermen pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed him [ Luke 5: 11]. That action shows the commitment of Simon Peter. A man because of his encounter with the Lord is ready to leave his job, his profession and also his skills so that he could be follower of the Lord. How do you think his family would have reacted. We know that Simon Peter was a married man. A man suddenly leaves everything for God “ leaving his family in total mercy of God”. This is also similar to the life of Abraham in Genesis 12. I believe this is this is the true mark of commitment, and transformation that we can bring about in our life. In a world where following Jesus Christ is more of gain and prosperity and fame [ like telling others which church you go for worship], there are people like the pastor in Iran, who teaches us that the ultimate test of faith and our commitment to Jesus Christ is what have denied and given up so that we can be followers of Jesus.
Let us consciously try to live for the Lord, which may incur in us loss, sometimes ultimately leading of the risking of our life. That is what commitment and transformation is all about. Let us remember that there are people like Youcef Nadakharni who is willing to lay down his life for the Lord and hence let us remember him and his family in our prayers.
What has it cost you to practice your faith?
Let us Pray: Lord we pray for people like Youcef Nadharkhani who is ready to risk everything for you while there are people like us who are not ready to pay any price to follow you. Forgive us and give us the grace to follow you more sincerely. Amen