This is a letter that I have just received that we had translated. The letter is written to the church and is from Pastor Behnam Irani who is in prison in Iran for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God is love. He does not seek his own profit. He has never sought and will never seek his own profit. He proved this truth by his manifestation in Jesus Christ, and allowed his love manifestation to bear an unendurable death on the cross.
Anyway, love does not seek its own profit, because in the genuine concept of love, a lover is degraded in order that his beloved is upgraded. A lover dies in order that his beloved lives. And how beautifully John the Baptist understood it when he said: “I have to become smaller day by day till he becomes greater.”
It is warned in the word of God that in the end times, the love of many will grow cold. This is one of the most dangerous situations if it happens, however it seems that its ominous shadow is spreading, the church will turn into an earthly organization which is benign for Satan and therefore it becomes a neutral entity wearing the invisible garb of the world. It will no more feel strange about the unbelievers’ values, and it would rather compromise than confront.
when I think back about the years of my faith and review the quality of love in my personal life and the relations among believers, with certainty I witness a series of reduction in that quality.
I never forget what made me thirsty for the knowledge and the contemplation in this faith. It was the love I received and witnessed in the lives of the believers of that era. I wish it could be possible for us to provide a statistical chart of this key element (love) in our lives. Then we would find it deplorable by saying “O Lord, what a plague has come to the church and each of us.”
A man or a woman never betrays his/her love. A man or a woman can never ever love two people simultaneously. This is just a big lie in comparison with the true love because it has sought its own profit.
Personally, I have talked about this unique element (love) over and over, and so have millions of servants and believers during the two millenniums but it is surprising that the same matter is severely declining in the church, and day by day, there is a reduction in its biblical quality which was planted in our hearts by means of the faith in Jesus Christ and the work of Holy Spirit.
Here in the jail, most of the prisoners are addicted to many types of illegal drugs, specially, crystal meth. I observed that this drug develops a condition that is called illusion. In this condition, individuals assume what is not real to be real and react to it, somehow the root of much of the murderous violence that is happening among prisoners here, is a result of the illusion caused by crystal meth abuses. Unfortunately it seems the church is having the illusion about love and in this ignorance it is receding from the truth of Jesus’ love more and more.
one of the signs that is cited in 2 Timothy 3:5, as a sign of the end times, is “having a form of godliness but denying its power,” and we see that even the church has not been an exception, specially, in the field of the heavenly love, it has become chronically vulnerable.
In Jeremiah 2:2 god says to his people, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.”
If we look at the general trend in the church, we will see that the love of the early centuries of the church was much more and deeper than the later centuries. Early Christians were able to pray, “O father, do not count their sins” for both their persecutors and their families. They were ready to sacrifice their lives for their beloved. They could count everything as a residue until they gain the heavenly love. They were burnt in fire alive, but they did not ever deny their Lord God.
They entered the land that was not worthy of their feet but they did not betray the Christ’s love by staying faithful in the principles of their faith. Through the wilderness – in other words in unbearable tests, not only their love did not diminish, but it grew more. And God’s manner and will had priority to everything in their lives.
Now what has happened that our manner, interest, and our will are replaced as the God’s will by forging them with a spiritual taste? Instead of changing and living a spiritual life, we change the spiritual life in accordance with our will. Was it how we were hunted by Jesus’ love?
1 John 2:5 says: “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him.” This verse is a good standard for the evaluation of a believer. If we want to make sure that we are in Christ, we have to note the quality of God’s love in ourselves and in order to be sure about the quality of this element in us, we must see, how keen we really are in obeying the God’s word unconditionally, how ready we are to take the yoke even if it is not according to our heart’s wishes and, how we strive to coordinate our heart’s wishes and will in accordance with the word of God.
I can say, God’s love is in me only when I obey the commandments of the word of God regarding the way of being dressed, morality, behavior, speech, familial and marital frameworks, and generally, the life methods provided for a believer, because as a result and attraction of this love I only can fulfil the scriptures, and later on, I can make sure that Christ is in me.
The above verse pulls us out of the entire illusion of love, and helps us to reach a correct concept regarding our status and our relations with Jesus Christ. Our great master said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
If we are truthful, we have to admit that love covers weaknesses and deficiencies. Not in the sense that it ignores them but it reveals them for us to see. We believe that Christ’s love doesn’t condemn the owners of weaknesses but gives them chances, and that is why, before the above verses, he said: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) in the communion prayer we read “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
God says, if we need Jesus’ love for our forgiveness, we also have to give this chance to others. If he holds our hands not to fall in the ups and downs of the faith path, we also have to aid the weak, and cover the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters with love. Otherwise, our improper judgement can stop their growth. How may this happen when the love of God has not dwelt in us?
The believers who get tired of each other, who are not patient with each other, who don’t forgive, who talk about others unfairly, and who don’t give chances to others, are those that have forgotten if god didn’t bear them, they would perish a hundred times. The love of god is so deep that he is not pleased with the death of an evil person, but rather with his return for repentance.
Nowadays, we have no patience with the weak, we do not stand up for those fell, we don’t weep for those have gone astray, and if someone leaves the church, we close his case by saying, “he didn’t deserve Jesus’ love.” What has happened to us?
1 John 2:6 says “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
1 John 2:9-10 says: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”
Why are these principles fading? Why do we least think about the fact of these days?
I request the brothers and sisters who gained this sweet relationship with God through the death and the blood of Jesus Christ, not to seek their own profit. Do not wait for others to begin, because if you do so, you will lose the chances in front of you by wasting the time.
Start it from yourself. Let a new movement take away the spiritual disorder and inactivity that have involved many of us so far. No matter how dark it is around you, it is important for you to keep shining, and to let the light of your love be generously offered to the believers. Be assured that God can never be stopped, and he always has the people that don’t seek their own profit. Why you not one of them?
In jail I have attained new experiences about love, I realized, I have not benefited from Christ’s love, and I am empty. Here, I live with cellmates that you can hardly see something positive in their lives and personalities.
Neither God nor common values of the society have any place in their lives and thoughts. They don’t think about anything but negative values, abhorrent acts, learning new experiences in crimes and nasty literature.
I look at them and whisper to myself, “do they really deserve prayers and intercessions?” Immediately, I remember that Jesus Christ was sacrificed for their sins too. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
I break under this level of love. I become weary of myself for being unable to reflect this love to the darkness of my surroundings.
I never condemn anyone. If I do, I myself am much worthier of condemnation.
I only warn, “Oh church, be awake. Remember the love of the days of your engagement.
The love that was free of selfishness. Shine upon this planet and do not let the light of Jesus’ love stop to shine from you. You, start. Don’t let the unkindness seas intimidate you. You can be the ocean of love if Jesus dwells in you. Don’t forget everything is possible for a believer, because everything is possible for Jesus.
Pastor Behnam Irani
17 Oct 2012
Karaj Central Jail