About Daniel Shayesteh

Dr Daniel was born into a Muslim family in Northern Iran. He became a radical Muslim leader and teacher of Islam in the militant Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement, closely supporting Ayatollah Khomeini. However, after falling out of favor with Khomeini’s political group, he escaped to Turkey where there began an amazing journey to faith in Jesus Christ.

Daniel's mission is to help others understand and lovingly respond to those who do not know Christ. He is also deeply concerned for the future of Western societies, their loss of confidence in Judeo-Christian values, and their persistent naivete about the implications of the world-wide Islamic revival.

Christ and the Relational Problems of our Generation (Part 2)

How can we manifest the truth about our faith in Christ to individuals in our contemporary generation who do not have the mind of Christ and are lost and incapacitated by the beliefs and ideologies they have adopted? Many are unable to or too busy to evaluate the values underpinning their own beliefs and ideas. Nor do they anticipate the outcomes of their actions which are shaped by those beliefs.  Only Christ can help them to pause and see what they have been missing and how they have been exposing their own lives and the lives of their communities to progressive moral bankruptcy. It is therefore urgent for us to reveal the mind and heart of Christ to them and become explicit in shining the Christ-light on all matters of life, but particularly the spiritual. 

Perhaps one of the most effective and legitimate tools in this light-shining endeavor is a creative conversation. Even though a person may be aware that Christ stands in opposition to many parts of their beliefs, they may not have experienced the challenge and stimulation of such a conversation. The revelation of Christ will fully engage a person’s mind, heart and conscience in such a conversation. The Holy Spirit often harnesses a person’s competence and capacity to discover the truth individually without the bias of pre-suppositions. Christ will help them to allow their consciences to become vocal about the truth since their freedom is closely linked to the awareness and declaration of their conscience about right and wrong. Christ wants them to experience a true testimony within themselves about the belief they hold which can give them peace. He knows that they will not be able to have a comfortable testimony in themselves unless they follow His model. 

This manner of creating awareness in people is inventive and productive because of the work of God in the Creation of humanity. The Gospel states that since God has created people in His own image, their conscience therefore bears witness to the principles which sprang from God’s image into their lives against their own conflicting thoughts, accusations or even excuses. 

14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) (Romans 2: 14 – 15 NKJV) 

In other words, so long as we are prepared to introduce Christ to them and can get them into a dynamic conversation with us and help them to discover their own conflicting moral stands, they have inherent capacity to discover the Christ-light and be enlightened., Even a person’s own conflicting thoughts, when exposed by discussion and challenge can demonstrate the human capacity to differentiate between truth and falsehood. We can challenge a person, if we have confidence in Christ, to prove the authenticity of their belief to us if they desire us to follow their path. In being asked to verbally expound their beliefs, a person is forced to formulate and justify them which can expose the inadequacies and inconsistencies. Certainly, they will give their hearts to Christ if they continue to discuss with us.

How do we get people into a dialogue with us? What are the fundamental tools that bring a Christian and a non-Christian together for an open and creative dialogue? 

Each person in the world understandably desires to have the best of everything in life. For us Christians, this is a strong God-inspired tool that focuses our attention on the very nature of what is the best. Other people may not know what is truly the best. Nevertheless, their claim to have the best or their desire to search for the best is a powerful instinct to motivate them for a conversation. In my interactions with people over the years I have come face to face with individuals who claim their belief to be the best among all. My response to them has often been “I would love to have your belief if you can prove its greatness to me.” My rational appeal has encouraged some of them to evaluate their assertion and to prove the accuracy of their claims as we have exchanged emails in a logical dialogue. This has opened the space for us to discuss the approaches of our respective beliefs about life in comparison with the values of Christ. Praise God, this has resulted in some of them putting their trust in Christ. 

When it comes to us, as the followers of Christ, our tool is the identity we have in Christ. He calls us as His light for the world. His light in us has established us as His heavenly examples to shine among people, drawing their attention, edifying them and illuminating their hearts and minds for everything in life. The very reason for Christ shining through us is to make us wise, enabling us to share our wisdom with others, teaching and convincing them to allow Christ to shine through them too. The light and wisdom of Christ is closely linked to the teaching of the whole Bible. The prophet Daniel prophesied:

And those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the sky; and those who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:3, MKJV)

This verse is a prophesy about Christ and His followers. The true followers of Christ are called wise and asked to make the manifold wisdom of God known to people. 

8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,    (Ephesians 3: 8-11 NKJV)

The manifold wisdom of God is about the entirety of life - spiritual, social, moral, political, economic. The light of Christ is to fashion our minds and hearts with the beauties of Christ’s mind and heart about every aspect and stage of life so that we can teach people and prepare and mature them to teach others in a similar way. That’s why His Gospel calls us His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador knows his/her sender and can reveal and represent his values. For example, in a discussion about leadership we need to know why the leadership of Christ transcends the model of their leadership and how it unites people in family and society for a harmonious, creative and productive life. What principles are there in the leadership model of Christ which inspire people to understand and believe that their contribution for the success of others will result in their own success?

This is the kind of disciple Christ desires us to become, helping others to think deeply about life and grasp bigger pictures for enlightening others. He has commanded us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) so that not only do they put into practice all that He taught but also teach others to do so. Therefore, as His ambassadors we are responsible to reveal His teaching about all things to individuals and nations on earth under His caring, loving and generous leadership: things about God, about His character, how relevant He is to the life of people, what kind of leadership model He has, how people deal with each other under His leadership, what life will look like without Him, what His concerns are about individuals and nations, what initiatives He has taken to draw people’s attention to reconciliation and a long-lasting peace and why people need to leave other models behind and follow His model.

Jesus not only revealed to us God and His plans with His manifold wisdom but also laid an unshakable foundation for teaching people to overcome all kinds of relational hindrances. This was to help people reach reconciliation and to live in peace. He taught us so that we could allow Him to use us as His examples to teach others. We need to honor Him by becoming His faithful disciples, His salt and light in a world that suffers from relational problems.

Christ and the Relational Problems of Our Generation

For over three decades I lived in two Islamic countries while I was a Muslim. I learned that practically speaking self-interest carried more weight than the family interest which carries a secondary weight and what is in the interests of the wider society comes last. Leaders, either amongst extended families or in other circles, speak to one another about their deeper desires and efforts for togetherness and the success of everybody, as if they are angels sent for establishing a harmonious life. But it is all to manipulate, overtake, leave others behind and gain more for themselves. Of course, there are a handful of people who want to have a simple life and stay away from these games as much as they can.

These relational and psychological problems are because the dominant belief has closed the door to humility, servanthood and self-sacrifice becoming the leading factors in leadership. It rather has opened the door wide for the accumulation of power in any possible way and through every means, as the saying goes, “The end justifies the means”. Under the authority of such belief you need to do everything it takes, ethical or unethical, to gain power at any cost and to establish yourself as the most authoritative figure. You need power to occupy the mind and heart of every person and thing, including media to become your political players for silencing others and to ensure the longevity of your rule. Then every truth-lover will be branded as betrayer or threat and all others will be called to rise, like a tribal movement, against the threat and destroy it at its conception. That’s why the Middle East has become the stronghold of bloodshed for centuries.

I also learned that leaders were always perfect and the most gracious ones. They do not need any opinion or advice to reform their leadership since they are faultless. Reformation falls only on the shoulders of followers in order to learn better ways to perform their duties that the new leaders expect from them. The leader is not accountable to anyone, but all are accountable to him. Nobody has the right to speak about the leader’s weaknesses or failure - everybody is obliged to present even the leader’s failures as his victories. The leader twists words and presents circumstances in such a way as to command praise from the people, such as presenting his leadership as extraordinarily good and that the country has never seen such a caring and gracious leader. Recently, I was listening to the comments of a self-established once-for-all-time president of a Muslim country on YouTube. This dictator was talking in a meeting, saying that his close companions were worrying that he had brought his country to a such a level of unimaginable overt freedom that it presented a risk of being confusing to the populace. Imagine that in a country where there is scarcely any freedom everyone is obliged to rejoice and say that they have abundant freedom.

Most contemporary Islamic countries’ laws speak in favour of freedom and equal opportunity, but they remain only inside the legal books just to give leaders a basis for lip service either nationally or internationally. Lip service has always been a practice in Islamic countries right from the establishment of Islam until now. It demonstrates how religious and ideological values and habits override laws in dictatorial ideologies, and how an authoritarian belief trains its adherents, directly or indirectly, to view laws and regulations as secondary to power.

Muslim leaders have always had two kinds of lifestyles, apparent and secret. The secret life is known to the immediate family members only and also to some extent to very close and trustable friends or companions. Whereas the apparent life is a show for demonstrating in a manipulative way that the leader is benevolent and ethical, all for him to pave the way for himself to penetrate and dominate endlessly. This dualistic lifestyle has become the cause of weighty psychological problems in all Islamic countries where people are forced to coat words with niceness and serve the interests of unjust people.

We see how Islam has affected the life of its followers negatively and endangered a harmonious life among its followers. It is impossible for Muslims to be cured of
these psychological and relational illnesses unless they leave Islam and come to faith in Christ.

Our jaws drop anytime we see similar kinds of psychological problems in the west, especially amongst many educated people who have turned their back on Judeo-Christian values. They too, like in Islamic countries, hide their real ideological colors behind talk superficially coated with democracy, freedom and equal rights. They do this in order to reach their goals in a hypocritical way as if it is too hard for them to invest their time, money and energy for the spread of their beliefs openly and with honesty. Not only this, they also react with coercion and intimidation, if a person standing true to his/her community exposes their insincerities.

Why do they do this? Because their ideas and beliefs, like Islam, cannot handle truth and reason. The followers are therefore unable to realize that in a democratic society actions and words need to be filtered for protecting the freedom and rights of all. Since these beliefs and ideas do not stand for the freedom and right of all, they push their followers to receive endorsement or allegiance via dishonesty and manipulation. We are all aware that dishonesty and deception are the two inseparable friends of discrimination, intimidation and war.

Anti-Judeo-Christian values in the west misled people with the notion of “all are true” in order to confuse people, create a cultural war between the national and minority cultures’ adherents for benefiting from these cultural clashes and thereby receive the support of people who fall into their traps. For them the power for domination comes from clashes among various people groups, like the “thesis and anti-thesis” of Socialism or “Muslims against non-Muslims” of Islam. This was the reason for the establishment of multiculturalism so that each cultural group could receive sovereignty for its culture and push its course until domination.

Unfortunately, their politics worked. Many surrendered to them blindly since they were unaware of their agendas and still are. As a result, they dominated and gave further legal power to minority groups to bully those who did not confirm their ways. Even many migrants, who have come to have a better life in the west, have learned from these narcissistic westerners that it is ok to disregard the fundamental values and constitutions in the west and stand for their own cultures, cultures that have failed in their own motherlands.

We can see how these beliefs and ideologies have incapacitated people and turned them to become the enemies of their own lives and the lives of people surrounding them. This is a spiritual war orchestrated by Satan. Otherwise, it wouldn’t encourage people to base their faith in deception, coercion and hostility. Satan has made these people sick from the top of their heads to their toes. They need proper treatment. They need the eye-opening words of Jesus Christ, His brain, reason, compassion, love and reconciliation in order to be able to know the truth and become free. For this reason, we, as the followers of Jesus Christ, need to look at them with the eyes of Christ and speak to them with the mind, heart and mouth of Jesus Christ. That’s why He told us:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (Matthew 5:14-15, ESV)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)
Light makes things visible, reveals their beauties for acceptance but their defects for rejection. We need to shine amongst deceived people so that they can discover the remedy for their lives. We are the adherents of the truthful belief. A truthful belief does not hide its own objects behind deceiving words. That’s why the Gospel of Jesus Christ says:

[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2, KJV).

What Unites Us Is Different from What Unites the Rest

Adherents of almost all beliefs and religions speak about unity, but in practice that unity ends up either in disintegration, with destructive fall-out among its own members, or it ends up in a long-lasting and constructive relationship.

All those beliefs that promote the theory of evolution and also the religion of Islam speak about an ultimate global unity, but all believe that they cannot reach unity unless their group strive against other groups and prevails over them.

All other beliefs that see the solution in the power of man and crown him as a god believe that they will reach unity by empowering individualism and self-centeredness, whereas self-centeredness is the major obstacle to unity.

There can be no hope of unification among individuals, groups or people or nations for a long-lasting relationship unless they are under a head whose belief is designed to unite people together from the beginning to the end. He combats the threat of conflict among them but establishes them in a path where they are able to unite their hearts, minds, feelings, plans, purposes and acts in such a way as if they belong to one another as the members of a healthy body. He not only unites them in all conduct of life but strengthens their zeal to love one another as their own body and further become the voice of this unity to others. This amazing unity is taught in the Gospel of Jesus Christ only:

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:2-5, ESV)

People need to follow Jesus Christ who is able to take the human race as a whole, bring people together from various national backgrounds, renew their minds and hearts so that they can walk together delightfully in His Path. Life which ensues from the message of the gospel practically and consistently nurtures unity despite differences in cultures, habits and laws. Cultural and habitual differences naturally force people into alienation and dominance. However a true belief enlarges people’s understanding of and commitment to taking personal responsibility for establishing unity. It enriches cultures so that people can unite their whole strength, wills, practices, cares and judgments together for following the best role model and thereby protect themselves from the forces of alienation.

In a truly unified group, people do not reject each other, but have unceasing peace which enables advancement in every aspect of life. This is because in peace the advancement of one also represents the advancement and benefit of others. There is no sense of competitiveness or personal gain at the expense of others.

The greatness of Jesus Christ is seen in His ability to establish such a unity among people of all colors, races, nationalities and ranks. For this unique task He deserves to be the commander in all things and among all nations and generations. The Prophet Isaiah defines the role of Jesus Christ very well:

…. the government shall be on His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. There is no end of the increase of His government and peace …. (Read Isaiah 9:6-7, MKJV)

Because He is the Prince of Peace, there is no end of His unity, and because He has the heart of an everlasting and loving Father, He does not allow war and hostility to run the lives of His followers. That’s why nothing is more important than the love and harmony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel says:

Through Him having made peace through the blood of His cross, it pleased the Father to reconcile all things to Himself through Him, whether the things on earth or the things in Heaven. (Colossians 1:20, MKJV)

By virtue of the reconciliation through Jesus Christ, we are established for eternal unity and peace. Our friendship in Christ is not divided but perfect to the extent that not only do we share the joy of reconciliation here on earth but also hereafter.

We, as the followers of Christ, are called to be the messengers of this unity to the world. Let us exercise our role in this New Year faithfully, embrace His plan for unity with the full purpose of our hearts and thereby prove to others by our lives that He is the only One to unite people in eternal truth, love and peace. The practice of our unity on earth will make the unity plan of Jesus Christ relevant to all nations and will pave the way for us all for an amazing song of unity in the future (Revelation 7:9-12).