Wednesday, December 31, 2008

President Ahmadinejad's "alternative" Christmas Message

While the Queen was doing her usual Christmas party piece on the BBC, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was doing his on Channel 4. Having looked at both transcripts there are obvious differences but also some measure of marked similarity. Both obviously make mention of Jesus Christ coming in to the world and both urge us to look to him as an example. Both have points to make that you can say - yes that is true, but both have deadly error.

The Iranian president makes much as the Queen does of these difficult days that we are living in. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's answer - The solution to these crises is to follow the Prophets - they were sent by the Almighty for the good of humanity.

Which is not that all that different from what the Queen was saying, We can surely be grateful that, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus, so many of us are able to draw inspiration from his life and message, and to find in him a source of strength and courage.

Please do not misunderstand the point of this post. I am not saying that these are two people that are equally admirable and who I would equally like to have round for dinner. The point is that so many miss the whole reason that Jesus Christ came into the world. He took the form of a man not to be an example, though He was that, and not to be a teacher, although He was the best of all. He came to die. Sent to die the most horrible death of all. Willing to endure hell in the place of others like you and me.

Of ourselves we simply can't follow the ultimate prophet. We are so sinful, so bent on doing wrong. Left to our own devices the only one that we want to follow is ourselves. It is for that rebelliousness we deserve eternal death, hell. What we need is a radical change to happen inside us, a change that only the Lord Himself can bring about so that we willingly turn from our sinful ways, trust in Christ's work on the cross to deal with the guilt of our sin and follow Christ.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes a repeating statement in his speech, If Christ were on earth today. The president repeats this line seeming to seek to score up international political points and in doing so reveals his complete misunderstanding of the reason that Jesus came to earth. Never once did Jesus Christ make politcal side swipes, never once did He portray Himself as some political freedom fighter. His freedom fighting was much deeper, striking at the root of all sin.

The president is right in saying that Christ is going to return but He will have no earthly accomplices as Ahmadinejad claims. The Bible says that He will come in all His glory. Every eye will see Him. All will be overwhelmed at His awesome majesty. Every mouth will be silenced. Many will call upon the mountains to fall on them and cover them. He will be on earth one day and all that will matter is what you have done with this Christ. Cooing at Him in a manger simply won't do. Giving Him a passing nod as some useful moral idealist wont do. Holding Him up as a useful political role model won't cut any ice. Only one thing will matter when He appears - that you know Him as your Saviour, Lord, Master and Friend. And that is exactly what God offers in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. That is an offer too good to refuse.

...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

2 Thessalonians 1:7b-10