A Prayer for Peace

Today’s question from the congregation: Why does God allow the war in Ukraine to continue?

Let’s begin with what we know unequivocally:

God condemns evil. God stands with the oppressed. One day God will judge those who have killed the innocent.

I know God sees the unjust war in Ukraine and is deeply grieved.

Why doesn’t God just stop it? God is all-powerful, right? Isn’t God able to say a word and end the war?

Consider this: if God forced the leaders of Russia through divine intervention to abandon their war, would they still be free?

The answer is no.

If God were ever to force a person to do something, that person would cease to have freedom of choice.

God doesn’t force anyone to love— that is the person’s choice alone.

But God is not absent from the conflict. God is working in the hearts of all people, urging them toward goodness, mercy and grace.

A person can ignore the voice of God in their heart. The Bible describes this as a hardening of the heart where God’s still, small voice is silenced and suppressed.

Thankfully, others are still hearing and responding to God’s voice. Others are acting upon God’s voice in the midst of the conflict.

A shining example of that came this past Sunday when Rev. Robert Gamble spoke to Unity. Robert heard the voice of God directing him to serve the people of Ukraine. For the past sixteen years, he has responded to that voice by creating and running a non-profit in Ukraine (This Child Here- https://www.thischildhere.org/).

When the war started, Robert continued to serve, even as his calling expanded to more people and became more dangerous. He returns to Ukraine this Friday to continue his work.

God is at work within the war through people like Robert, urging human hearts to choose love. But it is their choice alone to heed the call of God.

Jesus makes a similar point during his Sermon on the Mount:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
—Matthew 5:43-45

Raise your hand if you have an issue with this teaching. (You can’t see me, but my hand is raised). I don’t want to love my enemies. I don’t want to love people who are callously taking the lives of women and children. I don’t want to love people who start wars.

Hate is so much easier, so much more natural. It can seep out of you without much thought or intention. Although what would happen to my heart if I gave in to the hate?

A heart filled with hate, however justified, will have a hard time hearing from God.

God urges us toward love even when we have every right to hate.

Love does not mean idly standing by or accepting injustice. Love is active in the face of conflict.

Prayer is one of the ways we can fulfill this teaching. We pray for an end for violence. We pray for peace. We pray for the persecutor.

Love means going above and beyond to care for those affected by war— like the woman and children served by This Child Here.

To love one’s enemy is to recognize that we are not the final judge in a person’s life. God is.

How does God show love to our enemies?

God allows the sun to shine on all people, regardless of how evil or good they may be.

God allows the rain to fall and nourish the fields of righteous and unrighteous people.

A final judgement will one day come, but it is not here yet. Right now, God’s posture to all of humanity is one of love. This love is so compelling, so enriching, it seeks to draw all people to itself.

Unity’s Mission Board will be examining ways in which we can enhance our support to “This Child Here” now and in the future. The Mission Board has already given a $500 check for This Child Here on behalf of Unity.

If you would like to add your personal donation to support this ministry, please make checks out to Unity Presbyterian Church, clearly specifying it is for Ukraine-Children.

And in love, pray for an end to war, for peace to triumph, and for all hearts to be moved by God.

This Sunday we continue our Summer Of Questions with the following question:

Why did God appear to so many people in the Old Testament but not to anyone in the last 2,000 years? Think about all who lived before biblical times, all those who have never heard the word. Why is life after death just for those lucky enough to have been exposed to Christian teachings?

Gosh, you aren’t holding back! 🙂 I can’t wait to explore this with you on Sunday.

My study group focusing on the early church meets Wednesday at 11 am, followed by a light lunch.

See you on Sunday!

—Pastor David

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