My heart breaks as I watch the events of yet another world leader undertaking an act of aggression & oppression against a less powerful neighbor. I really want to say how unbelievable it is that we are witnessing this, given where we are in global history. But sadly, it is entirely believable. For to be corrupt is human. The fact is that the news of this week is merely a larger-scale event reminiscent in nature to events that have occurred, are occurring, and will occur throughout our existence.
To be sure, we need to denounce the actions taken by Russia and its leader(s). We need to pray diligently for the citizens and leaders of the Ukraine – and those of Russia. We need to pray for and call upon our own government leaders to take the appropriate actions to correct this (and all) oppression, quickly and decisively.
That said, I think the events of this week should serve to call us to even more action. I believe that the right place to begin is with a serious time of personal introspection. If it is true that to be corrupt is human, then each of us needs to recognize our own corruption. No better time than now to reflect where we are acting with aggression & oppression in ways that are damaging to our neighbors. When King David of Israel reflected on his grievous acts, he wrote Psalm 51 in which he said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”. This should be our constant posture, and today is the best time to begin, or begin again.
Beyond ourselves, it is time that we recognize that every human institution is susceptible to corruption. For they are human institutions. I’m speaking of governments, companies, clubs, churches and every single gathering or organization that involves humans. There is no design – even with good intent – that can let down its guard against corruption. With this in mind, there is more we can do.
As Americans, a great place to start is with gratitude. Despite our many faults, we do live within a system that was/is generally designed with good intent. Patriotism should not be looked down upon. But it should be exercised with a recognition that it is humans that we choose to lead us – and being human, they require our scrutiny. Pray for discernment, vote wisely, protest wisely & peaceably when needed – then repeat these steps as often as necessary.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to recognize we are members of an organization (the Church) that is Global, not National. The global Church to which we belong, when we are followers of Jesus Christ, is not one denomination or another, is not evangelical or not, is not the American church or the underground church in China – it is the global community of followers of Jesus Christ, and our citizenship is in heaven. Our calling is to love, and love is not aggressive & oppressive.
Our love is to be expressed in three concentric circles: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. 2) Love one another. “One another” in the Scriptures always refer to those in the global church. If you are being aggressive & oppressive toward fellow believers, please stop. Ours is a call to reconciliation, and it starts within. 3) Love your neighbor. Jesus makes it clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan that our neighbor is Every. Single. Person. And especially those that any organization to which we belong would suggest we hate – like those that are different in any way. Love your neighbor.
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