Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven. Matthew 5:44-45
“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful: All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe, and peace and blessing be upon our Master and Prophet, Mohammad, and his pure Household, and his noble Companions and on all divine messengers. Oh, God, hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his rightfulness!”
That prayer was offered in New York City before the Sixty-fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A generation ago it would have been unthinkable that the leader of a nation could pray such a prayer at the UN with impunity. Yet this prayer, and the absence of any negative public response, demonstrates the growing impact of this leader from a country where church and state are one in the same. A system of beliefs that Iran is using to destabilize the Middle East and intimidate the global community.
I never thought I’d see the day when an ancient, repressive nation could intimidate the modern world using threats based in theology. We’ve seen plenty of international bullies (Hitler and Khrushchev come to mind) but these leaders were primarily based on military might and their personal desire for power. Ahmadinejad is different because he’s a theocratic leader with nuclear capabilities on one hand and a “divine mission” from God on the other.
The fact that Iran views itself as the “true” keeper of the Muslim faith where the Mahdi will return and the religious leaders reside, gives her a superior view of her role in the world and makes her a bully to other Muslim nations in the Middle East. This religious fundamentalism has made the world nervous. Nations are apprehensive not because Iran has the third-largest oil reserves or the fourth-largest army. But because she has a cult leader with a ticking time bomb.
There’s so much I don’t understand about Islam, but I’m sure of two things: First, Iran is intent on creating instability in the Middle East to hasten the return of their God. Second, we can be sure that there’s a day coming, as foretold in Ezekiel, that Iran’s hopes will be dashed as they try to eliminate the State of Israel.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember in the face of Iran’s threat is that God loves each of us and pursues us as individuals even inside the borders of nations hostile to Him. Iran may have risen against Him, but within that nation are people who can hear God’s voice when He calls and respond to Him with love and dedication even when faced with persecution from families and friends.
That’s why we have to remember who the real enemy is. A nation may have defied God, but within that nation are Christians and potential Christians who need our prayer. Remember God is all powerful and no one is outside the length of His reach. Join me in trading fear of Iran’s threats for praying for both our nations under God.