"An Unwanted First "
June 20, 2017
1 John 4:19 - We love because he first loved us.
Taimoor Raza has chalked up a first.
Now, in many situations and circumstances, being first at doing something is a good thing. For example, we honor the man who was first to walk on the moon, the first to run a four-minute mile, and the first to climb Everest.
But there are no such honors being heaped upon Taimoor Raza.
You see, Mr. Raza is the first man to be arrested and condemned to death in Pakistan for having written so-called blasphemous things on Facebook. It seems that, one day, Mr. Raza was at a bus stop, minding his own business. All he was doing was listening to his phone. Sadly, that to which he was listening was overheard by a counter-terrorism officer.
That officer arrested Mr. Raza and confiscated his phone.
During the course of the police investigation, Mr. Raza's writings on Facebook came to light. According to Pakistan's somewhat ambiguous blasphemy laws, that was enough evidence to try and convict him. Thankfully, that is not the end of the story. Mr. Raza still is allowed to appeal his conviction -- all the way up to that country's Supreme Court, should that be necessary.
Has it ever occurred to you that there are no such blasphemy laws in the Christian nations of the world?
Have you ever thought that nobody in our country is sitting on death row because he has said something disrespectful about the Savior, the Lord's prophets and evangelists, or the Holy Scriptures?
Just why is that?
The answer is an obvious and significant one. It is an answer which is based on the Lord's loving relationship with His children.
Unlike some of the world's "deities" who demand blind and fearful obedience, our Lord has established a relationship which is based on His love and grace. Because of our sinful disobedience, the Lord could have given us all manner of good works to try to earn back His forgiveness and favor.
He could have, but He didn't.
Instead, in His mercy and grace, He sent His Son into this world to carry our sins, pay their price, and suffer the death we had deserved. Now, because of Jesus' great sacrifice, all those who are called to faith in the Redeemer, are forgiven and granted the gift of eternal life.
The Triune God believes that anyone who has seen what He has done will be given a thankful heart and be moved to an attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude. He knows that His people will always do their best to honor His Name and, in every way possible, show their appreciation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we give thanks that because of our Savior's sacrifice we are allowed to live a life of appreciation and thanks to You. Send Your Holy Spirit upon the others in this world who have faith in a "god" of anger and fear. Open their eyes and hearts so they may see -- and believe -- in the wonders of Your love. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Catie Collins for Cnet on June 12, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written. Please click here
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries