Photos of flaming tires, police in riot gear and sniper victims in Kyiv finally grabbed the attention of all the major television networks. Conspiracy theories, rumors of higher prices and lost jobs are blowing up Facebook and Twitter. For the Americans just beginning to pay attention to demonstrations that started 3 months ago over a conflict that goes back over 10 years, the swirl of lies, betrayals and ominous warnings make it hard to tell the “good guys” from the bad. Who should we believe? Putin says this – “Aren’t Russians our friends now?” Merckel says that – “The EU may be our competitors, but also our best allies.”
Jesus said. “Blessed are the shalommakers for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Making peace Jesus’ way does not mean taking a quiet seat next to a still pond watching the birds sing. It is costly and dangerous.
One one eventful day Jesus stood before: his top religious and judicial leaders — Annas & Caiaphas, then the hastily assembled Sanhedrin court; his political rulers — Herod and Pilate; the military — temple soldiers arrested him; then Herod’s soldiers mocked him and the Roman soldiers flogged him. Finally, he stood before the public, his own people who had turned into the Jerusalem mob. He never displayed fear in the face of his persecutors. He prepared for his enoromous, awful day with a prayer vigil. We cannot tell if the strain he displayed speaking privately to His Father was over the execution he knew was coming or the unprecedented separation death would create between the Father and the Son of God.
Jesus told his followers they would be blessed for making peace. But he also said standing for peace for the gospel’s sake would be costly. Following his example requires physical courage and the will to risk one’s personal reputation to be a peacemaker like him. Like Him we are expected to tear down barriers and speak from a kingdom-of-God perspective, rather than a nationalist one.
I have observed that grounded believers are acting as peacemakers and ambassadors for Christ. They are choosing what to say in the pulpit, the market and the town square in their neighborhood in light of their Savior’s example. How do they stand with their Lord in these situations?
Orthodox priests have taken to standing between demonstrators and riot police and praying for them both. Some of our Protestant friends have prayed with demonstrators at Maidan Square and served all comers with cell tents, blankets, warm food and a cell phone charge. Last week a lay preacher from a Kyiv Baptist church became the acting president of the nation until Ukraine votes what to do next.
Imagine you are Turchynov and must pick up the phone to talk with a regional govenor who refuses to recognize your authority or respond to a mafia boss or oligarch who is offering to help, an ambitious politician who wants influence in your administration, an army general with soldiers facing a roadblock, a reporter, a police chief, a foreign banker, …
Shall we not pray for our friends making decisions right now in Ukraine, Poland and Russia? Pray for believers choosing today to say kingdom words of peace to neighbors in Ukraine, Poland and Russia!