For the first time in 80 years, there is war on the European continent. Russia, following a lengthy and rambling speech by President Vladimir Putin instructed his forces, amassed at the Ukrainian border, to proceed with the first invasion of a sovereign nation by another in nearly a century.
The thirty-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization, of which the United States is a member, condemned the invasion. President Biden condemned the attack as well and announced an escalating series of diplomatic and economic sanctions. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy both offered similar condemnations of Russia’s unprovoked aggression.
For most of us, these events are jarring, having grown up with a free Europe where conflict largely involved a global fight against terrorism, under the assumption that the Cold War was over. But today we face the frightening prospect of an emboldened Russia led by an evil dictator. So how should Christians think and act in this moment?
First, we should earnestly pray for the people of Ukraine. We should pray they, despite long odds, might prevail in the fight to keep their freedom. We should pray for the people imperiled at this very moment, as mortars drop around what were, just weeks ago, peaceful communities. Americans who live in relative safety might not understand what it is like to shepherd our children into subways and shelters or make agonizing decisions about where to go and who to save.
Second, we should work to support and strengthen the church in Ukraine. Often a hub for gospel witness throughout Europe, now these ministries are imperiled. If Russia’s chilling restrictions on freedom of worship in the occupied province of Crimea are any indication, our Ukrainian brothers and sisters could face significant persecution. American Christians should pray that God gives the church in Ukraine courage and comfort in the face of fear. We should be prepared to mobilize humanitarian support for the many refugees who flee this terror.
Third, we should pray for U.S. leadership in this moment. There is much room to criticize President Biden and his foreign policy team, but we should also obey 1 Timothy 2 and earnestly pray that God gives him wisdom and strength as he leads our country. Christians should resist the urge to score cheap partisan points. Jesus said to us, “Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).”
Finally, followers of Jesus should be clear-eyed and hopeful. This is not a time for moral equivalence about the depth of Vladimir Putin’s evil actions as Russian leader. His regime has killed dissidents, persecuted evangelical Christians, launched unjust wars, and has been an enemy of free people everywhere. And yet followers of Jesus can be hopeful, knowing that every despot will have his day. As Jesus said to Pilate (John 19:11), the power wielded by world leaders has an expiration date. Only one king, Jesus, will reign forever. One day he will return to right every wrong, to renew and restore the world, and to bring lasting peace.