PAKISTAN (BP)–The huge loss of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for minorities, has given all believers in Pakistan a cause to reflect on the cost of following Jesus. It is a time to consider the challenges that accompany this faith. Jesus promised that, “In this world you will have trouble.” We have seen, again, the horrible face of trouble.
Shahbaz Bhatti made a video testimony before he was killed. He did not mince words when he said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given His own life for us. I know the meaning of the cross. … I am a follower of the cross.” These are the words of a man who had counted the cost and decided that following Jesus was worth it all. He was a man who had committed his life early on to the cause of the “least of these” among God’s children.
Why do we Christians so often run from the cross? It seems we think Jesus was referring to a piece of jewelry when He said we should “take up [your] cross daily and follow me.” In reality, the cross is an instrument of torture, of death. It represents the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Jesus knew the cross. Shahbaz Bhatti did too. What they both knew, though, is it does not represent the end of the story for those whose hope is in Christ.
Most of my friends in Pakistan want to leave, and I understand why. Most of my friends outside of Pakistan want me to leave too; again, I understand their concern. But I’ve got to wonder, “What would Jesus do?” What if He ran from the cross? What if He had changed His mind? We would all be lost today with no hope for tomorrow. We would be just like those who have killed Shahbaz Bhatti, without hope — living and dying by the sword.
The most poignant of all speeches I heard this week was by a teenage Pakistani Christian girl. She asked, “Do you think the world ever heard of Shahbaz Bhatti before this week? No. But this week everybody with a television could hear him testify about Jesus Christ! Even after death, God has used Shahbaz Bhatti for His work!” This teenager is clearly focused on the real meaning of life. It’s not about our jobs, our families, our ideas, our peace or our prosperity. The reason for our being present in this world of challenges is to bring glory to God in all that we do — living or dying. It’s all about God, not us.
My teenage friend went on to say, “Why do you think God has birthed us in this country? It’s to give a testimony for Jesus Christ! We must give a faithful testimony here so that people around the world can know the truth about Jesus.” Amen, sister!
With young people like this in our world, there is hope for tomorrow. This young lady has a clear grasp of her eternal home in heaven. She knows that Shahbaz Bhatti and Jesus Christ are there now. She knows that we are only “travelers” in this world. Her home is heaven, her eternity secure because of the one who was the firstborn of the resurrected — Jesus Christ.
As I reflected on the words I heard, I had to wipe a few tears away. Then I was reminded that just after Jesus promised us trouble, He also said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world!” Oh, brothers and sisters, He has overcome this world! As you remember this eternal hope of Mr. Bhatti, please seek to be the kind of faithful servant he was, wherever God has placed you.
*Name changed. Worth Ballinger lives in South Asia and has worked among Pakistanis for many years.