It is not long since we celebrated the birth of Jesus and now we are fast approaching Easter.
I don’t know about you, but I find that unless I take the time to deliberate on Christ’s work on the cross it is possible that the celebration of Easter may become a mere tradition.
It is amazing to dwell on Creator God abandoning His power and glory to come down to earth with a single mission. To live the perfect life as a human being, to take on your sin and mine to the cross, to purchase a pardon and membership to His own family for all who are willing to repent and believe. Charles Wesley was moved by wonder to write: Amazing Love! How can it be, that Thou, My God, should die for me?
Jesus offers forgiveness, transformation and restored relationships with the Creator and ultimately with others too. The number of believers among Persian-speakers continues to grow as they recognise their poverty of Spirit, embrace the grace of Jesus and come into a saving relationship with Him.
It takes an effort of will for me to get beyond the warm and fuzzy connotations of the word relationship.
I know that life is indeed about relationship, whether at work, in social activities or in the family. Yet relationships can be clouded by expectations, desires and agendas and often need healing.
How we relate to God our Creator is the foundation of all relationships, which were broken at the fall. Jesus, the ‘seed of the woman’ promised by God in Genesis 3:14, came to defeat the enemy of both God and man, bringing salvation and the restoration of all things.
A NEW HEART FILLED WITH LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR
Relationships between Iranians have been damaged by decades of betrayals, perceived or real, small or great. The legacy of mistrust will take a long time to undo, yet there is already evidence of that healing process in the lives of Persian-speaking believers.
Like all nations, Iranians too can view their neighbours with mistrust or prejudice. Yet believers from Iran regularly get in touch with SAT-7 and ask us to pray for neighbours with whom they have not always enjoyed loving relationships. This is powerful evidence of the transforming power of Jesus, as Paul announces in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, behold a new creation.”
I was speaking to a wonderful Iranian believer who told me about the times he and his group washed the feet of Afghans, Arabs, Turks and Jews as a demonstration of their love. And perhaps even more powerful is seeing the change of heart among believers who pray compassionately for the authorities who persecute them.
LOVE AND COMPASSION
One believer from within Iran recently shared a beautiful prayer with SAT-7 PARS in which she says:
Lord we ask that you touch each and every Iranian and meet them so that they would come to know the truth, bring them out of darkness, oppression and superstition; addictions and economic pressure; depravity; discord among families; disease and bondage affecting so many. Have mercy and free them oh Lord. Touch the hearts of those who hold the reins of power in the country; grant them soft hearts and ears that hear’.
The truth is that without the love and compassion of Jesus the future seems bleak. But not for the believer who looks beyond that which is visible.
I don’t know if you are a fan of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but in the Return of the King, at the darkest point in Sam and Frodo’s journey through enemy territory, there is a tiny break in the ever-present black clouds above them. Spotting a small patch of blue sky and crystal-clear air, as they stumble through polluted Mordor air infused with sulphur and heat, they remember the greater reality beyond the clouds and are filled with hope.
So it is for all believers whose ‘blessed hope’ is the real Return of the true King, who heals and transforms His people.
And as the messianic greeting goes: ‘blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. ■
- Thank God that more and more Iranians are turning to Him!
- Pray for the Iranian church, that there will be a spirit of unity amongst believers instead of suspicion.
- Pray that believers in Iran will have loving relationships with their neighbours, in order to demonstrate Jesus’ love to them.