Tortured for Faith

torture-16thcentury

Please pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen being tortured in prison in Iran for his Christian faith. Click here.  ACLJ continues to fight for his freedom, and for the millions of Christians oppressed and displaced by Muslim Brotherhood.

I write about this from deepest compassion for victims of abuse and torture. I am also disturbed by the underlying idea of compelling a change of heart. Isn’t someone’s heart by definition beyond the reach of another’s control? Isn’t our heart our very own, to determine in concert with God (or not)? Isn’t our heart by its very nature our own personal and private life? I realize I was molded as an American — my very life and breath is about freedom. But I also know that God allows us choice — to accept or deny Him, to follow or renounce Him.

How can a change in faith be compelled? To declare a compulsory state religion — whether it’s Islam or Atheism or Christianity — has never worked. Faith is inherently voluntary.

Christianity is the only doctrine of faith in all the world that includes the word “freedom” in its doctrine. An astounding thought. The concept of freedom is woven throughout the bible from beginning to end. God offers a voluntarily love relationship with us as His children, because a coerced relationship has no value.

Surely there is a world of difference between a radical group torturing a pastor to renounce his Christian faith, and a family shunning a teen to change his mind, or a spouse controlling or manipulating a spouse to achieve a desire result. But the underlying attempt to control is the same.

Lord, God, help us understand our freedom in you. Help us see fully who you are and who you designed us to be.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

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