What I Learned About Repentance from a Major Iranian General
While watching an MSNBC report, Shelby Telmani, a Maryland University Professor said that Major General Qassem Soleimani, an ‘Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps1’, “had blood on his hands.” Though I thought I already knew that, it wasn’t until they flashed his picture across the screen that I was able to process the gravity of that statement. While looking at his pic, I wondered if he had, in fact, repented. Was there ever a point, throughout his highly regarded military career, where he was truly repentant for the fact that he’d killed, ordered, and/or orchestrated, the death of thousands? To have carried the weight of their deaths had to have taken a toll on his soul, but what would repentance look like?
As I considered the weight, I knew - by the Spirit - that he had. How can I be so sure? Because God is good, and it’s ‘…the goodness of God [that] leads…to repentance.’ Not only that but ‘…the Lord is…longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all [including Mr. Soleimani] should come to repentance.’ Notice the verse says should come, but not all will. Meaning, it would have been his decision. But let’s, for a moment, say that he did. What would that look like? How could a major Iranian military general leave his life, heritage, and religion, in order to serve the One whose people he’d killed? I’ll tell you what that looks like…the Apostle Paul. Repentance for the Highly Regarded
Though not a major military general, the Apostle Paul garnered the same level of respect within his nation. He readily admitted to having, ‘…persecuted [God’s people] unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.’ He too was highly regarded and well-known for the way he persecuted Christians. Yet when he encountered Jesus, He walked away from it all. He said that, ‘…what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.’ Therefore, men like Mr. Soleimani are no anomaly to God. He’s dealt with men like him before and done great and mighty things in and through them. So surely someone like Mr. Soleimani did come to a point where he could no longer carry the weight of who he’d become; a popular and prominent major military general, known worldwide for his military prowess and his decisive leadership of a worldwide terror network. The only problem is that if he did accept Christ, like Paul, he too would have to leave his position, place, and popularity behind. Am I saying this is the decision Mr. Soleimani faced? I don’t know, but it is something to think about.
The other thing we need to consider is that clearly Major General Soleimani refused God’s offer of eternal salvation. But even if he did, what if he still felt the need to be forgiven. That need would require him asking his god to forgive. Though commendable, the only way he could receive eternal forgiveness, is to repent to the One in whom he so valiantly fought against. Let that sink in for a moment. To be offered the gift of eternal salvation, from a God that you’d spent your entire life fighting against, would be humbling to anyone; let alone a major general.
Everyone Needs Forgiveness...Especially Eternal Forgiveness When I thought about that someone, who was clearly an unbeliever, would seek forgiveness, was shocking to me. That's because I ignorantly thought that we Christians were the only ones who did. I mistakenly thought that all unbelievers were unrepentant. Yet some aren’t. Some do ask forgiveness...from the wrong god. That’s sobering. Truly sobering. The irony of it all, is that God used Mr. Soleimani, a highly respected Iranian general, to reveal that bit of spiritual intel to me. Which just goes to prove how awesome God really is.
On the day I found out about Mr. Soleimani’s death, I said to myself that he had to have been a special man. That if he was able to garner that type of respect among his people and his troops, then what could he have done for God? Because even in his death, God used him to help me, a Black/Choctaw American Christian, better understand the need to repent…to the right God. And though this post may sound un-American, I don’t condone his actions. I’ve just chosen to reserve judgment for God (Mt. 7:1-5). But if his death meant nothing to any other American, then I can truly say that because of Major General Qassem Soleimani, I gained a better understanding about the importance of my salvation and God’s priceless gift of repentance.
SOURCE – 1- Wikipedia