Russian Baptists respond to Crimean annexation, crisis in Ukrainecomment (0)
March 27, 2014
Editor’s Note — The Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists published this open letter dated March 13 in the midst of the crisis surrounding the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Dear friends around the world:
Today world society is divided on how to assess developments in Ukraine. One demands that we choose sides. But doing so means rejecting those people of good will on the other side of the barricades. At a time like this, we remember the words of Job 37:23: “The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in His justice and great righteousness, He does not oppress.”
God humbled Himself and accepted His undeserved reproach, torture and death at the hands of those whom He had created. He accused no one, even though He had infinite numbers of reasons, arguments, physical evidence and documents at His disposal. He condemned no one and did not label people as “friends” or “enemies.” And God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
He equally accepts those from EuroMaidan and those from the Regions, both within Ukraine and beyond. He accepts them all as His children. Let us not claim that God is on our side and against the others. God is above and beyond our petty preferences and loyalties. In the political sphere, God is not for one side at the expense of the other. We are not sure how to make it clear, but we want to demonstrate our love — and God’s love — for those on all sides.
Humankind seems to be teetering on the brink of a disaster and is remaining unharmed thanks solely to the grace of the Almighty — even though some would claim that they themselves have guaranteed survival. But all the hosts of advisers, analysts, political forecasters and intelligence services cannot offer a thorough and objective overview of all that is transpiring. But we are very sure that Jesus Christ is our Lord and supporter, independent of that which occurs. He is in control of all that is developing in Ukraine, Russia and the entire world. It all happens “according to His will.”
On earth, He chose the path of nonresistance to evil, of humility and patience. He loved and prayed for His adversaries. And His love is real and unchanging and can be experienced in that which transpires around us (1 Pet. 3:13–18).
No historical events can overcome the love of God. No “genetic” nor “national” memory can erase the result of the death of Christ on the cross. No propaganda, no science, no politics, no economy nor army can change what the Lord said in His Word confirmed by His blood more than 2,000 years ago: “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Each of us needs forgiveness from the Lord, and for that we must come to terms with each other, to forgive enemies. That is the only way Christ offers us to find peace and quiet in our homes.
Being able to forgive for Christ’s sake means more than death on the Maidan, more than a treaty with Western Europe, more than a discount on Russian gas. It means more than billions of dollars from Russia or Europe, more than 45 acres of stolen possessions, more than $40 billion stolen from a country. It means more than all dollars and euro added together. We must ask for forgiveness and also forgive. That is why we turn to our Heavenly Father and cry: “Have mercy on us, o God. Grant us the strength to ask for forgiveness from enemies and to forgive them in the name of Christ.”
Our calling as Christians is to demonstrate the love of Christ and His forgiveness, especially when the world’s conditions seem to exclude that possibility. And His solution to the current situation will be better than anything we could have devised through our own efforts. Realizing that, we thank God for all that was and is, for “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Today we pray that God might bless the principalities and powers that He has ordained for our good, no matter where we are. We pray that we might not become the sons and daughters of violence, that we not become guilty of dishonesty, disobedience or insurrection, that all might be done for Christ and His glory. We pray that all that occurs in politics, economics and otherwise not take over center stage in our lives. We must dedicate our time to the most important task of all: preaching the gospel and praying for the redemption of the lost.
We pray today for the two fraternal nations of Russia and Ukraine and for peaceful resolution of the current situation. We pray for understanding among the political and religious leaders of our two countries as well as the entire world community.
May God preserve and protect us all.
Vitaly Vlasenko, director of external church relations
Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists