While war proves scary, the Bible proves ever relevant. When the images of the first Russian rocket attacks lit up my phone with notifications, my heart sank. While I cannot grasp the geopolitical consequences of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in earnest on February 24, 2022, I do know that we have indestructible hope. The Scriptures offer us 5 life-inspiring principles that will guide us through this age of international turmoil:
1: Do not Fear
While wars and rumors of war catch our media pundits and military analysts by surprise, Jesus fully anticipated all that we are experiencing today.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet – Matt. 25:6.
Christians should understand that war is the natural disposition of men and women who refuse to bow the knee to king Jesus (Jm. 4:4). As Jesus makes clear in Matthew 5:9, peace proves to be the exclusive fruit of the Kingdom of God. Until men and women submit to God’s will on earth like the angels do in heaven, wars will remain. The day is coming when every knee will bow. But that day is not today. Wars remain.
Despite what the social media says, Christians should not assume that every war represents the beginning of the apocalypse. As Jesus notes in Matthew, “the end is not yet.” The fact that Putin could be labeled the anti-Christ today more than 505 years after Luther determined that Pope Leo X was the anti-Christ and more than 218 years after English protestants determined that Napoleon was the Anti-Christ should give us pause. Like the Christians before us, we hate suffering and want to console ourselves with the hope that our suffering will be special and short lived. Yet, Jesus anticipates his church will suffer much non-apocalyptic harm because of wars and unjust governments prior to his return. Wars and rumors of war reveal the need for Jesus to come quickly but they do not necessarily serve as the guarantee of his immediate return. Do not place your hope in the apocalyptic predictions of pastors; place them in the God who promises to never leave us nor forsake us no matter our circumstances. Jesus will come back but until then we must live by fatih.
2: Do not Trust in War Horses, Tanks, or Kings
The images of burning trucks, exploding buildings, and wounded civilians prove to be a powerful reminder of the folly of trusting in things other than Christ. Though politicians promise peace and claim their military policies will prevent World War III, no nation-state can prevent sin from taking hold of another nation state for it is intrinsic to the human condition. Tanks and missiles alone cannot guarantee our safety and security. Psalm 33:17 informs us that:
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. – Ps 33:17
Those who trust in warhorses, tanks, and aircraft carriers will be disappointed. But those who trust in the Lord who controls the hearts of kings need never fear. For the God of the universe cares for his children and has liberated them from the sin within and from tyrants without. As Jesus told his followers in Matthew 10:28, Christians no longer need to fear those “who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Though nations can kill us, no nation-state or forty-mile-long convoy of tanks, troop carriers, and mechanized artillery pieces can separate us from the love of God. Such things can destroy the world order and our lives. But our eternity remains secure. When war rages, we should trust our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and not in the empty rhetoric of politicians however patriotic or common sense their appeals maybe. The Psalmist concludes, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes (Ps 118:9).”
3: Pray For Peace
Except for the small numbers of us who work in the State Department or in the strategic planning wings of our various military branches, few of us can meaningfully advocate for peace on the world stage. All of our tweets and endless speculations about what should have been done or about what our governments should do now will move almost no one to action expect perhaps our friends who will ask us to stop talking while rolling their eyes. Our words will do little.
Even if we do travel in geopolitical circles, the success of our pleas for peace still depend upon God’s kindness. “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain (Ps 127:1).
Though we can do little, our God can and does much. Quite naturally then, Paul instructs us in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 to pray to the God of peace:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly, and dignified. – 1 Tim 2:1-2
Peace both within and without is a gift of the Lord. When the fears of war invade our hearts, we should pray to the author of all peace in heaven and on earth.
4: Share Christ
Though I do not fully understand Putin’s political, cultural, and economic reasoning, I can speak to Putin’s spiritual motivations. According to the Scriptures, wars forever remain the byproduct of the sinful heart. Jesus claimed that “evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander,” all come out of the heart (Matt 15:19). Children squabble over toys because the evil thoughts of their hearts lead them to unjustly snatch their sister’s doll. Nations fight over resources and national pride because their leaders possess the same corrupt hearts the makes kindergarten classes so dramatic. In other words, kings, presidents, and dictators take aggressive military actions because they lack inherit goodness and by consequence are enslaved to evil desires which invariably produce disastrous consequences on the national and international stage. “None is righteous, no, not one (Rom. 3:10).”
While negotiations have their place and we should pray for God to bless them (see above), the grand solution for war resides not in diplomacy but in salvation. Jesus alone possesses the power to bring stone cold hearts to life. When people repent and believe and gain the spiritual ability to promote peace, extend mercy, and grant forgiveness, the impulse to fight begins to die. The more men and women embrace Christ, the more war and conflict dissipate. Heaven has no wars for there the love, mercy, and peace of God reign without interruption. If we long for peace on earth, we should share the gospel, which alone enables men and women to experience community with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Community with heaven produces peace on earth. As long as children willful disregard the commands of God and fight on the playground, the possibility for international conflict will remain.
5: Help The Hurting
While sharing the hope of peace, Christians should also care for the practical needs of their brothers and sisters who suffer under the terrors of death. In Hebrews 13:3, the biblical author encourages those of us in peaceful lands to, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison.” Paul clarifies in 2 Corinthians 8:13-14 that our financial abundance has been given to us not so that we can go on dream vacations but so that we can care for the needs of our brothers and sisters around the globe who are suffering. Paul writes,
For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness, your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. – 2 Cor 8:13-14
In other words, those of us who enjoy peace and abundance should take an avid interest in the Ukraine church and in Christians around the world who lack such peace. We care for them because at some point they will be caring for us. If God has blessed you with excess funds, I encourage you to click here and to give to Send Relief or to give to other Christian organizations working to help Ukrainian believers.
War always proves to be a horrible thing. But believers are not without recourse during global suffering. When war rages, we are to cast out of fear, trust the Lord as opposed to tanks and kings, pray for peace, share the gospel, and help the hurting. May God help us all to live consistent and godly lives in the present age as we await the hope of the appearing of our glorious God and savior.