The Journey 131
Read: 1 Samuel 13, 20
A few months back I had written in my Journey the plight of a Christian Pastor in Iran, Youcef Nadarkhani, who is awaiting death sentence in Iran for alleged apostasy. A new development has taken place which has been reported by Fox News. The attorney and human rights advocate who represented the Christian pastor, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah has also been sentenced to death in Iran in a case that has now sparked international condemnation. According to the news agencies he has been sentenced to nine years in jail on the charges that he has acted against national security in Iran.
Dadkhah has represented several political and human rights activists jailed since Iran's 2009 disputed elections. Dadkhah has also reportedly been banned from teaching at universities or practicing law for 10 years. The American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, which has been working to secure the release of Nadarkhani, fears that the decision to jail Dadkhah puts the Christian pastor at greater risk. Because of this decision, now no other lawyer is likely to take the case of Pastor Youcef and thus the pastor will have no legal advocate nor help, which places him at greater risk. Dadkhah was reportedly in court defending one of his clients when the judge announced his own nine-year sentence. He is expected to be jailed soon. Dadkhah was also the attorney for 12 Christians who stood trial on Easter Sunday in Iran. Meanwhile this week ACLJ also released what it says is a letter written by Youcef Nadarkhani earlier this week from a prison in the Lakan Province of Iran. If the letter is real, it is the first time Nadarkhani has been heard from in a year. What a strange case where the power of an entire country is against two individuals, and brazen display of power and oppression in the name of religion. Any country or society or an individual will not go very far, if the principle behind that society or country is based on the brazen display and autocratic use of power. It is here that the Word of God teaches us something different about the concept of power. It is then we will understand what is transformed living.
This week we are meditating on the theme “ Transformation in my personal life” based on 1 Samuel 20-26, reflecting the lifestyle, the attitudes of Saul and David. But look at what Saul does when he becomes the King. [ 1 Samuel 13]. After he was anointed as king, Prophet Samuel instructed Saul, the young king to travel to Gilgal and to wait for seven days for the prophet’s arrival and the subsequent offering of sacrifices. But Saul grew impatient and when Samuel had not arrived on the seventh day, He offered the sacrifices himself [1 Samuel 13:8ff], and then proceeded to justify his action. [ 1 Samuel 13:13.] Here is a ruler who uses power to disobey God. Another brazen display of power and arrogance was when he as asked to destroy the Amalekites, but he does not do so and the last straw of display of brazen power and autocracy was how he became jealous of David because he became more famous than him. This make Saul to make attempts to kill David and just as we said yesterday it was David who forgave Saul, on every occasion that he had the opportunity to kill Saul. Saul used power not only to disobey God but also to subjugate and to oppress others and use it project himself over others. One of the key aspect of ones life is to think what happens to us when we are endowed with power and authority. People today love to lord over people, there is sadistic pleasure when we have the authority and power over others and that is what we all love. But Jesus taught us an example that is totally opposite to the worldly understanding of showing one power and authority. He says “ The greatest among you will be your servant, for whoever exalt himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”[ Mathew 23: 11, 12]. Here is an entirely different paradigm on the use of power. As believers let us examine our life and see whether we are also like Saul who have used power and authority given by God to lord over others or have we used it as an opportunity for service and as an act of witness to God. Let us examine what does power does to us and that will show the type of transformed living that we live