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Brother Leighton's response to JCAC blasphemy charges against Barrister Zafar Ullah


The Victim Mentality

Why our attitude should be different

Yesterday, I was reading an article from Al Khaber news, that a barrister by the name of Zafar Ullah during a press conference in Islamabad, was trying to compare the persecution faced by Jesus, to that of his ally and friend, the current Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. Understandably so, Christians may be upset by this kind of statement, due to the fact that they are a persecuted minority in their own country, paying particular notice to the controversial blasphemy law in Pakistan, of which many Christians have fallen victim to and no doubt will do so in the future. But upon hearing the reaction of certain Christian groups in Pakistan, that they are planning a nationwide protest in order to try and enforce their own version of a blasphemy law, fills me with concern. A concern that this sort of action could lead to further antagonism and violence between Muslim and Christian communities going forward. So what should our reaction be to this kind of statement, the answer will follow when we look at the attitude of our saviour, the Lord Jesus?
Love Your Enemies:

Jesus said in Matthew 6:44 to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” We must understand that the Gospel today, is an offence to many people, this was true in Jesus` day. When we protest over statements such as these, we must ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” Would He protest, did He incite nationwide rebellion against those who attacked Him, namely the Pharisees? Many would answer that He certainly attacked the Pharisees (Matthew 24:13-39) verbally and He continually warned the people against their teaching (Mark 8:15) and yes, there are numerous examples of His grave offence at the behaviour of certain religious people in Israel at that time. But if He wanted nationwide protests, would He have been “led like a lamb to the slaughter, and a sheep before its shearers is silent, and so did not open His mouth.” The answer to that is no. Jesus quietly in submission to His Father, went to the cross on our behalf, not to be a victim, but to be a conqueror.
When we protest at statements such as these by Zafar Ullah, I believe we are not loving our enemies. In fact, if I am to be honest, I do not think he was being particularly blasphemous in the sense that people believe. He was defending his friend, and yes I do believe that the comparison is perhaps not a good one, but we must understand, Mr Zafar Ullah has a different world-view to us and sees things through the eyes of a Muslim. In one sense I am heartened to hear a Muslim speak of Jesus in this sense and recognise that He did in fact suffer, but as followers of Christ, we should be praying that his eyes may be opened further to the truth. By marching on the streets across the nation, is only in my opinion going to create further trouble for the Pakistan Christian community and actually fuel the heat of persecution leading to ironically, more blasphemy charges against Christians. This is not loving our enemies, but actually is inciting them to hurt us further.
Victimhood and Politics:

There is a great tendency today, for many people to play the victim. Due to events in history such as the holocaust and slavery, many people are apt in this era to use these events as political leverage to further their own cause or agenda. Recently in the West, we have seen a huge upsurge in rights handed out to Homosexuals and those who are of the Transgender orientation, largely at the cost of the Christian voice which is now being silenced, as religion is increasingly forced into the private realm. Of course, we have a duty as Christians to speak out, at what we perceive to be attacks on the truth of the Gospel, but not as victims, but as speakers of the truth. Was Jesus a victim? To some He was, but if that is the case, then why does the scripture say “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)

Triumph is not defeat. Jesus in His death, did not just die as an atonement for our sin, though that I believe is the main reason. He died also that the powers of darkness may be silenced, that is why on the cross He said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) and in John 19:30, “it is finished”, meaning the victory was complete. Our sin had been paid for, and the devil stood condemned. Zafar Ullah may be wrong in his comparing Jesus with his good friend Nawaz Sharif, but rather than protest and cause disruption across Pakistan, painting ourselves as victims constantly, trying to garner international sympathy in the process, we should be trying to win hearts and minds through our Christian witness. Protesting as some wish, will only be counterproductive to the work of the Gospel putting I believe, people`s lives at risk. We must understand that this is precisely what Jesus wants, our hearts, our lives, not our protests and flag waving, for is this not just a show of pride on our part. Also, by protesting in this manner, we are giving those enemies of the faith, an excuse to launch more persecution towards the brethren scattered across the nation. So brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not shout invective at those who make false comparisons, more out of a sense of ignorance than anything, for this is to harm not to heal. Pakistan, is a deeply divided country and very diverse, with much to offer, as Christians we need to be bringing the love of Jesus to people such as Zafar Ullah, by praying for his soul in forgiveness, by loving him in return for his ignorance. Only then, will we cease to be victims, only then, will we be taken seriously, only then will we become conquerors, for it is in Jesus` name that the victory is ours.

Brother Leighton

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