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A Matter of Life and Death
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"A Matter of Life and Death" |January 17, 2015 Order Info


Texts: Matthew 5:21–30; Proverbs 6:21; 7:3; Proverbs 6:23; 7:2; 6:24; 6:30, 31; Proverbs 7:26, 27

They have decided to literally put their lives on the line. After last week’s terrorist massacre of staff members of the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, the surviving editors decided to continue publishing cartoons that offend many in the Muslim community.


Death threats have appeared online toward survivors of the attack that left 17 people dead, including three Islamic extremist attackers who were killed. The remaining journalists decided to not only print cartoons that lampoon the Prophet Muhammad (Islam forbids all images of the prophet), but publish a print run of three million copies of the paper. A typical print run is 60,000 copies.

Muslim groups in France raised concerns that this first copy of Charlie Hebdo will ignite more dangerous actions and exacerbate tensions between orthodox Muslims and the secular West. As funerals were held this week for victims, the French Muslim community called for people to “remain calm and avoid emotive or incongruous reactions incompatible with dignity,” while “respecting freedom of opinion.”1

The atheist newspaper vigorously defends its right to free speech, to lampoon religions and religious leaders and hold them accountable. The “irreverent” magazine depicts on its latest cover the prophet Muhammad crying and offering to forgive the attackers.

As we look this week at the theme of our Sabbath school lesson, “A Matter of Life and Death,” we are reminded just how strongly the Bible calls us to avoid sin and follow the path of wisdom. Following the law leads to life. Trailing after the adulteress leads to death: “Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:27).

We are shocked at the misguided passions of extremists who barbarically murder. We are appalled to the lengths at which publishers of satire keep printing in the face of repeated death threats. Though we are quick to disagree with the methods and content of such groups, we are slow to acknowledge our own lack of conviction over life and death issues.

To what lengths would we go to avoid breaking God’s commandments? How passionate are we to remain pure and true to our allegiance to Christ? Many of us are quick to excuse, to rationalize, and to simply ignore the laws of heaven when they cross our self-focused lives.

Notice the strong language on Friday’s lesson: “Choose poverty, reproach, separation from friends, or any suffering rather than to defile the soul with sin. Death before dishonor or the transgression of God’s law should be the motto of every Christian” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 147).

Men and women chose to die for publishing cartoons that mocked the Prophet Muhammad. Would you die before dishonoring the God of heaven?

~ cr

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