A stunning story out of Britain reveals how dangerous it is for Christian in that country.
It involves a Christian from Iran wanting to immigrate to Britain. Now to be sure it is not only dangerous for Christians in Iran, but particularly for any Muslims who convert to Christianity because they face the death penalty if they don’t renounce their new faith.
But the British newspaper, The Independent, recently reported that an Iranian Muslim man who had converted to Christianity was denied asylum in 2016 by the British Home Office for a reason that can only be described as bizarre.
While being interviewed by the British Home Office, the man explained that he had converted to Christianity because he was tiring of the violence of Muslim extremists. In comparison, he described Christianity as a peaceful religion.
However, when the bureaucrat in Britain’s home office rejected this asylum claim, the person brazenly stated that the man was being rejected because Christianity was not a peaceful religion and cited several passages as evidence.
The bureaucrat wrote:
“These [Bible] examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge.”
I was shocked that a bureaucrat was so emboldened by anti-Christian bigotry that he or she actually felt free enough to put this in writing. It makes you wonder about the atmosphere in Britain’s Home Office where these cases are handled. Often these outward expressions that slip into the open are just the tip of the iceberg of what is actually being said behind closed doors.
The man’s immigration case worker said he had never seen anything like this rejection letter. Others were equally horrified by the statement and after this story hit the media, the Home Office was in full spin mode trying to explain itself out of this mess and finally stated it turned down the Iranian Christian because he did not follow proper procedure.
Yet, as we study Christianity one of the most difficult passages involves Jesus admonition to love your enemies.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 NET)
This teaching goes against every natural human instinct. Yet, if a person is serious about their Christian faith, this is the end goal. This is how Jesus wants us to live. This does not project violence.
Now at the outset, it would seem Christ’s teaching of love and forgiveness contradicts the Old Testament that talks about such things as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But we need to understand the fundamental difference between the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament provides the history of the nation of Israel and many of the laws, such as an eye for eye, were governmental in nature.
For example, the Law required the death penalty for first degree murder, but this contrasts, Jesus’ teaching that we need to forgive those who hurt us.
Though it seems the Old and New Testament are providing opposing messages, in fact, they aren’t. The death penalty was the law of the nation, but Jesus was not addressing the government but rather an individual’s personal faith and responsibility.
So while an individual was required to forgive those who hurt them, the government still needed to enforce the law and bring justice for the crime.