“Pray constantly.”1 Thessalonians 5:17
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.’Matthew 5:43-45
Once again, the world finds itself under the shadow of war. Russia has invaded Ukraine, as it has threatened to do for some time, according to the American president and leadership. The level of threat remains unclear, depending upon how trustworthy the media reports are, always questionable. No matter the objectives of the Russian military, the fact is no one is safe in war. Civilians bear as heavy as cost, if not more, than the military.
A friend shared this article on Facebook this morning from the Christian Chronicle, which can be read here. The article talks about the Christians, Ukrainians and Americans, who are having to deal with the situation and how they are choosing to do so. Some have chosen to leave, others who can’t or won’t are helping those fleeing the areas of conflict. Then there are the Russian Christians. They are fasting and praying for their brothers and sisters in the Ukraine, and for wisdom for the rulers in this situation. They love them as fellow believers and are demonstrating the spirit of Christ in a breathtaking way. One of their leaders is quoted as saying they are praying ““for Ukrainian and Russian brothers and sisters in Christ to keep their focus on what makes us one (Ephesians 4:4-6) and to maintain love regardless of the ever-changing political situation.”
The verses he referenced are these: “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Our Russian fellow believers remind us of an essential truth of what it means to be the body of Christ.
In God’s kingdom there are no nations, no tribes, no borders, and no enemies. We are not Americans, Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese, or anything else. We are one body, the body of Christ, who bought and paid for us with his life and blood. Our hearts need to ache for one another: when one suffers, we all suffer. Nations and governments will always do what they will do. They are all about power and control. It may be couched in language such as “security”, “exceptionalism”, “national interest”, or a hundred other terms, but it is still about wielding power and control. It is born of the Evil One who holds power over this world until God declares, “Enough”.
We need to be in prayer, constantly, for our brothers and sisters throughout this world, many of whom live under a shadow of persecution that we in the West can only dimly understand. We who are blessed greatly should share our blessings with those of the body who have need. We do it, not only by command, but because they are our spiritual family, and we are constrained by love to share what God has given us. What sets Christians apart from the world is this command of Jesus: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” It’s what Jesus did for those who crucified him; how can we do less? If we love Him, we keep his commandments.
If we are of Christ, we are of a kingdom that is not of this world, a citizenship granted of a higher power. The mightiest are those who are servants of all. Those who considered ‘least’ by this world and seen as weak and powerless receive the greatest acclaim in God’s kingdom. Its citizenship is open to any who will receive it and name Jesus as their Lord by giving Him their full devotion and obedience.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, and in Russia, that they will be safe, but more so that they will remain steadfast and faithful, and their light will blaze in the darkness that has descended upon them. Pray the insanity that has apparently overtaken our leaders will be broken, and they will humbly seek God’s wisdom and counsel in seeking peace.