After bearing witness to the travesties in Ukraine, many of us are left wondering “why?” Is the fighting and violence necessary? What purpose does any of the misery serve? It’s doubtful that any response we receive to those questions would be considered good because, to many of us, war and violence on this level serve no good purpose.
It’s easy to be swept up by these most current events and feel like there is something new or unique about this latest conflict, but the truth is, there’s nothing particularly special about what’s happening in Ukraine. Unfortunately, war and violence, in general, are mainstays of our world and have been for a very long time. Our nation is no exception. Almost every American citizen knows that, until recently, we’ve been involved in violent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. What many may not know is that under the banner of the War on Terror, the U.S. is currently playing a part in a number of other violent conflicts across the world including in the Magreb, Horn of Africa, Somolia, Pakistan, Syria, and Libya.
Believers in Jesus should abhor the violence. His teachings revolved around love, and war is anything but loving. However, those that follow God should also understand that, for humanity, wanton violence is nothing new. As noted in a previous blog entry (An End of War), when God considered destroying the human race, our propensity for violence was chief among his reasons.
God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. – Genesis 6:12-13
God understands how ingrained violence is in humanity so much so that throughout the Bible he used humanity’s penchant for making war to serve his own purposes. Joshua and the other children of Israel made war to claim God’s promised land. Saul and David made war to build the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. God used war to humble and punish the Hebrews when they strayed from the righteous path. And of course, Revelation tells us that it will be a big war between the forces of good and evil that will lead the way to Jesus taking his throne.
The truth is that God has long used war as a means of accomplishing the goals that he has set for his people. It may seem like a violation of God’s own principles for him to do that, but our problems are what put him in that position. In the past, when God gave his people peace, they strayed away from him and engaged in debauchery and evil. The same happens today in our own world. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen war on American soil, but the peace that we’ve experienced within our borders only hides the misery that our nation’s bad actions have brought on others outside of our borders.
What place do Christians have in a world so rife with violence? As always, it’s our job to be lights in the darkness. We can take stands against unnecessary violence and call for love and peace instead of hatred and violence. We may not always be able to stop wars from happening, but we can be there to help pick up the pieces when the fighting is finished. We can pray to God for those who suffer the ill consequences of war and even those who are responsible for bringing it in the first place. Most importantly, we can continue to spread the news about Jesus. After all, when Isaiah prepped the world for Jesus, he said the following:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
And of the kingdom that Jesus will eventually rule:
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:7
Yes, humanity has long been plagued by a propensity for violence, but God has a plan to save us from it. Our path along God’s planned route might be a bumpy one where the worst aspects of our nature far too often get the better of us. However, Jesus came, died, and was resurrected to give us a chance at salvation, and as he told his disciples, he also gave us a path to peace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
If we seek peace we need only continue to believe in our Savior. If we want peace for the world, then we have to do our best to make sure that others believe in Him too.