Brothers and Sisters,
I’m grieved this morning – not to mention disturbed – by what we see unfolding in Europe as Russia has showed its hand and begun a no-kidding invasion of Ukraine. Before I go further, someone might ask, “Why make public comment on this war, and not the many other armed conflicts underway around the world.” It’s a good question and elicits some self-reflection on my part. But, the answer isn’t too difficult to articulate. Some wars strike closer to home than others in our conscious awareness of the world, and rightly so. Consider these factors at work in Ukraine:
1. It’s not often that we see clear-cut examples of large scale state-on-state conflict. Yet, that’s the scenario we’re watching now in Europe.
2. Here we have an autocratic government under the authority of a bully – Vladimir Putin – acting in unjustified aggression against its neighbor. Sometimes the “justice” of an armed conflict is “gray.” I see little that is “gray” about what’s underway in Ukraine.
3. The United States spent a generation and more concerned with the threat from the U.S.S.R. Present-day Russia is not the U.S.S.R., but in its current political iteration it looks and feels much like the “enemy” we encountered for decades from 1945-1991. I say “political iteration” because I don’t want to paint all Russians with a broad brush. Indeed, we have Russian brothers and sisters in Christ, some of whom may even now be serving in that country’s armed forces!
4. Given our NATO treaty commitments, this conflict directly impacts U.S. national security interests.
These reasons and more explain why what’s unfolding in Ukraine captures our attention in a particular way.
Now, what can we, followers of Jesus living in this country, with little direct involvement in what we’re hearing, reading, and watching, do in response? We can pray to the one who said, “Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:10-12, NASB). As you pray, let me encourage you to pray specifically in the following ways:
1. Pray that the Lord would remove Vladimir Putin from his position of authority and power.
2. Pray that the Lord will give wisdom to our country’s leaders as they respond to this situation.
3. Most of all, pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are Ukrainian or otherwise live in Ukraine. Be specific here as you pray. Read the article at this link written by Vasyl Ostryi, one of the pastors at Irpin Bible Church, located nearby Kyiv, Ukraine. Let us, Felton Bible Church, adopt this Ukrainian congregation as a focus for prayer over the next month.
All creation groans waiting for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Romans 8:22). Sometimes that groaning erupts in war. Today we can join the prayer of Revelation 22:20: “Come, Lord Jesus!”