What should Christians do about the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

Monday Musings for April 04, 2022

Good morning, Musers,

How do we respond to a world that is falling apart? We keep on chugging, that’s how.

In Jesus’ time, no one who lived in North America knew what was going on in Ukraine. News traveled around the Roman Empire, but it traveled no faster than people could travel. Now, that didn’t limit God. But it did limit God’s people. Since they did not know they did not go... nor could they pray for those in distress in an informed manner.

Today, everyone knows everything instantly. So, not only can we pray knowledgeably for the people of Ukraine, social media allows us to contribute money instantly... if that’s what God has put on our hearts. But the crisis in Ukraine is merely one of many around the world, and since we hear about these continually, we can grow calloused to the suffering of others.

Global trade is another of today’s advantages. Products from all over the world are continually at our disposal. This helps buffer food insecurity globally because the “plenty” from one country offsets the scarcity in another. But this is on the macro level. Individuals and groups still starve daily — and wars exacerbate this... especially when refugee crises are in their wake.

How, then, do we “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) in a world where we are within earshot of injustice, wars and starvation? By doing the work that’s in front of us.

Now, the work in front of us will probably not relieve the Ukrainians’ suffering — not directly, anyway... but God has a plan. The kingdom of God grows like a rising loaf of bread (Matthew 13:33). The bread rises because the yeast bacteria infects whatever is next to it... not what’s on the other side. Eventually, we see that the whole loaf has been raised!

Like the loaf, the whole kingdom of God rises... but only through the action of people infecting the people around them with good. Growing the whole loaf takes time, but God has time.

The Body of Christ is a global spiritual entity, so its influence around the world acts like global product distribution. Because I am aware of Russia’s aggression and Ukraine’s suffering, I can pray specifically for their peace. And when I pray more generally, I am praying for the thousands of people who are suffering in less-known conflicts around the world.

Connecting with suffering believers is a great privilege... even though I am only occasionally moved to respond. But let’s get back to Jesus’ lesson on how to grow a kingdom.

My primary job as a disciple of Jesus Christ is to do the work that’s in front of me. That’s what the Bread of Life (John 6:35) taught us — because that’s how we grow the kingdom!

Nevertheless, I empathize with the Ukrainians. I try to imagine what it would be like to be displaced, starved, disinherited... to watch my family members being raped and killed. But I simply cannot take on those people’s unique suffering. What I can do is use my gifts to make disciples and grow God’s kingdom. Eventually, God wins. But how you feel about the word “eventually” tends to vary with your degree of suffering.

“They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10, NIV)

 

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