Have You Been Accused of Blasphemy Today?

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you”. John 15: 18-20

Asia Bibi is not exactly the kind of name you hear everyday. You may find it vaguely familiar from recent headlines describing the plight of a certain Christian woman in Pakistan. There are varying accounts of the story, but all those involved agree Asia was found guilty of a obscurely worded, but frequently used, blasphemy law. Under the blasphemy law, an individual can be sentenced to death for derogatory remarks against the Islamic faith.

Ms. Bibi is officially the first woman to be found guilty of the law. She was sentenced to death last month. Ms. Bibi is not, however, the only one to be sentenced under the blasphemy law. Many more men are currently waiting on death row for their appeals to be heard regarding accusations of blasphemy against the prophet Muhammed. Most of the men are Christians.

As I read about Asia’s hardship, I couldn’t help but think about the verses quoted above from the fifteenth chapter of John. Recently, through daily events and individual study, I have been convicted regarding my own sense of self-righteous pride in my christian walk. As if there is anything in me that is not directly provided by the grace and mercy of God alone. Like most of you, I hear about persecutions of Christians around the world and I wonder what my own response would be if I were forced to denounce Christ or die at the hands of my enemies.

I don’t get very far before I have to admit that I don’t really have any enemies! Sure, I may not get along with an individual or two, but enemies? Really? That is when it really hits me how absolutely disconnected my reality is from 99% of Christians who have lived throughout the ages. I can take my bible with me wherever I want to go. I can pray whenever and wherever I choose. I can take my family to church on any Sunday any weekend of the year.

I have to assume Ms. Bibi is at least aware of this passage from John, and if she wasn’t before, I am sure she must have Christian brothers and sisters who have shared it with her by now. Imagine the comfort she receives from those words. Now contrast that comfort and hope with your own feelings when you read those verses. I know my heart aches with shame as I am no more familiar with the “hate of the world” than I am the very word blasphemy!

I seem to relate much more readily with the stark warnings of 1 John 2:15 than the comfort provided in our first passage. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Do you sense the contrast between these two passages? Oh, how my pride shrinks when I realize how similarly foreign my struggles would seem to Asia if she were afforded one day in my shoes. I’m sure she would no less marvel at my “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” than I at her tragic persecution.

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