Not only the Kingdom of God is obtained by force!
These are bare nerves which reveal two poles of life in Ukraine now. How can Christian faith and reason reconcile these two opposing realities? At first glance, this is impossible. In fact, these two absolutely different worlds belong to the same God-created planet. It is this royal creation of God that can give away one’s life and live forever; can fear the destruction of one’s home and make plans to rebuild the country; can smile through the lonely tears and feel the family warmth and comfort while sitting in a damp basement next to strangers.
The war in Ukraine, in its visible and invisible dimensions, is like a tensely pulsating epicenter of Ukrainian humanity, in which two deep national processes continue synchronously, reaching their culmination. The first one is the radical spiritual cleansing of the people from deception, irresponsibility, unbelief, and selfishness. The second is the absorption into the blood, flesh and soul of the nation of the moral values, which, like healed chromosomes, translate Ukrainian DNA to the level of integrity and unity that the fathers of the nation have dreamed of since princely times. These two processes, which stem from the depths of faith, prayer, and the sacrifice of our ancestors, are unfolding more and more rapidly in the people's consciousness. Every day, every hour and every minute, every Ukrainian heart, mind, and hand are increasingly filled with God's power, which helps to gain both the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt 11: 11-15) and an earthly Ukraine, where dignity, solidarity, brotherhood, and readiness for self-sacrifice are the main features of our dual citizenship.
WE WILL NEVER LOSE WITH CHRIST!
Love is not loath to accept the hardest of deaths for those it loves.
St. Isaac of Syria
The war, the suffering of the Ukrainian people, the death of children: mankind once again feels the cold winds of violence, destruction, and despair. Due to the lack of a basic sense of value, dignity and love for man, the enemy ruthlessly and thoughtlessly destroys the civilian population. The enemy, like a wounded beast, pays no attention to anything, he sees only his own reflection around him - an empty, meaningless, eerie being. Without God-given humanity and dignity, the invader wants to deprive others of this gift, too, leaving behind his own ugliness and fear.
How do we explain this chaos of war in a Christian way and how do we recognize the presence of God in the midst of evil? The Son of God, the New Adam, becomes man in order to gather His scattered and sin-divided creation. He takes on the mission of the Old Adam, and, through death and resurrection, restores the lost harmony of the original world. He heals it from the wound inflicted on it by Adam's transgression.
God honors and does not violate human freedom, and mankind has learned to speculate and use this great - and at the same time binding - gift to their own evil advantage.
Destruction and injustice, the forces of evil and lies that seek to fill our lives, are the result of the inadequate use of freedom, a gift that has been abused. You do not need to fall into despair and be afraid. The Lord Himself calls us to be courageous because He has won. “You are suffering in the world, but be brave: I have conquered the world!” (Jn 16:33). The chief Christian leader prepares his soldiers for sufferings and gives hope. The evil that supposedly dominates the world, sowing chaos and death, is not the ultimate reality, but a certain distortion of perfection because of human bad choices. The deceptive reality and totality of evil are temporary and shaky, in contrast to the true and loving presence of God and His Kingdom. This is the ultimate reality, the fullness of omnipresence in love with Love. Everyone is called to reveal the Kingdom of God now in this world.
Love, support, solidarity, effectiveness, courage, and many other virtues, as well as positive and sacrificial activities represent the will of God. The more we show goodness, love, faith, prayer, that is, the revelation of Christ, the less room there will be for evil and hatred. Each of us can become a warrior when we hear the call of the Apostle Paul: “Put on all the weapons of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6: 11). Let us unite in both visible and invisible struggle, because we have Christ, the Commander-in-Chief, who overcame everything with Love! And with Him we will never lose!
PEACE IS ACHIEVED BY FORCE! BY THE POWER OF GOD!
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you…” (John 14:27) are quite contentious words of Christ, don’t you think? What did Christ mean when He spoke of His peace? How does this relate to today’s events? The modern world offers its definition of peace – a state of peace and harmony, a period between wars. Can we call such peace Christ’s? It is highly doubtful. This is not enough. This is just the outer shell. The world slowly comes to realize that this is not a comprehensive definition. The most striking sign of the times has been the ongoing Revolution of Dignity. Maidan is now in everyone’s heart. Man was impassioned with a thirst for God and true peace, gave resistance to injustice, and achieved success. Therefore, we honor the Heavenly Hundred, although today we do not count hundreds anymore.
In contrast to peace, the Russian-Ukrainian war has been dragging on from 2014 to the present day. For some reason, before the events of February 24, the world did not recognize the actual attack of the eastern neighbor. Despite the hostilities, they adhered to the opinion of achieving “relative peace,” in the context of the internal affairs of Ukraine. They tried to resolve the situation, but it was not enough.
As a result, Russia planned an attack on Ukraine, trained troops, stocked up on missiles, and engaged in propaganda. Such potential peace was only an outer shell, an illusion. We need to seek God’s peace, which is greater than this. Not only material factors should be taken into account, but also spiritual ones. It is necessary to look for God-given peace in a person, and not in a situation.
The word “peace” in the biblical context is very special. It is much deeper than it seems at first glance. Whether the Old Testament שָׁלוֹם (shalom), or the New Testament Εἰρήνην (eirenen), peace is unity with God, covering all spheres of human life: physical, spiritual, and social.
An example is the blessed life of Adam and Eve in Paradise. They were carefree, literally knowing nothing but peace, because they contemplated God directly. Isaiah writes: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (11, 9). Our very nature seeks this peace, unity with God, unity with the Creator.
Is it possible to call peace what we are experiencing now? Yes. As long as “God is with us!” (Isaiah 8:10), we will be at peace. But this peace is special, its maintenance, like the attainment of the Kingdom of God, is achieved by force (cf. John 11:12), not by violence, but by the power of God.
THE SPIRITUAL POWER IS STRONGER THAN THE PHYSICAL ONE
At this difficult and perilous time for our ever-suffering nation, probably everyone is wondering how many more challenges, sacrifices and pains will the Ukrainian people have to endure in order to finally gain freedom and live in peace. As the old saying goes Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you want peace - get ready for war). Obviously, the Russian-Ukrainian war we are enduring right now was inevitable. For years, the neighboring enemy tried to destroy our statehood from within, and when that was not enough, he resorted to the worst crime against humanity. The enemy destroys our infrastructure, destroys innocent lives, razes our relics, yet they will never be able to break our spirit, to erase our history, or to take away our desire to feel the spirit of freedom, because we are descendants of free people, not slaves.
Despite all the pain and tears we see and feel every day, we still have a ray of hope that the victory is near. Our army, like 300 Spartans, abrest, defend us and our golden-topped Kyiv, so that the predatory boot of the horde does not dare to tread on our holy land. With admiration, I have been closely watching our Armed Forces that are fighting not only for their people, but for the whole free world. For the world that spoke about the "largest army in the world", which in 48 or 72 hours was supposed to be able to capture the capital, Kyiv. But instead, we saw the Ukrainian army defeat the Russian army in the same way David defeated the much stronger Goliath! Doesn't life overcome death, and doesn’t light conquer darkness? Despite the indescribable pain of mothers, children, husbands, brothers, daughters, the world calls us "indestructible," and admires the feat of Ukrainian heroes. Sometimes it is difficult for them to fathom that spiritual strength is much stronger than physical strength. But we understand well what we believe in and we do not doubt that victory will be ours, because we have truth and God. If God is with us, then who is against us?
As pious Christians, today, we are meant to face many challenges. This does not mean that the Lord has rejected or punished us. He does everything to make us spiritually and physically stronger. If God puts His people on trial, then they must accept it with dignity and humility, because the Lord does not subject us to unendurable tests. A striking example of this is the life of Jesus Christ. His life was difficult and thorny. However, He was able to endure everything: hunger and thirst, shame and persecution, bullying and death. The life of Jesus Christ teaches us that by surviving fire and water, storms and rains, we can finally see the sun. Christ rose from the dead and thus showed us the correct response to challenges and suffering. Any suffering one experiences is able to be united with that of Christ, who brought Himself for the redemption of the world. And only devout faith can allow us to overcome despair and anxiety in accepting life's challenges. What is beyond the power of man, is within the power of God. Christ says to everyone who is having a hard time: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find relief for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and the burden I put on you is light ”(Matt. 11: 28-30). Can a burden be light? Christ seems to think so. The main thing is to learn to accept what is given from Heaven and move through the thorny paths up to the stars!
EXIT "EGYPTIAN CAPTIVITY"
After reading the morning news on Thursday, February 24th, one of my first emotional reactions was a feeling of great regret that the wings of our beautiful Ukraine were crushed so cynically. All in all, our motherland has developed noticeably since the Revolution of Dignity. Modern airports, renovated European roads, beautiful buildings, and cities became more and more like those of our European counterparts ... Our main aspiration is to become a modern developed European country governed by the rule of law, solidarity, respect for human dignity and moral values.
On the morning of February 24th, it seemed like all of that was annihilated, because the enemy was destroying our infrastructure, and wanted to make us part of the "Russian world." My heart sank with sorrow. However, very quickly the disappointment was replaced with hope, and a deep feeling that we will come out of this war much better than we have been prior to now.
Today's tragedy reminds me very much of the exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity. On August 24th, 1991, we, Ukrainians boldly responded to God's appeal to break free from Soviet oppression, but this was only the beginning of a difficult path to a truly free and dignified life. Afterward, we took different steps: forwards and backwards. We made revolutions, then returned again to the "Egyptian bread and meat." I think that the main problem was not so much that we needed to change our government, but that we needed to make changes in ourselves.
The Lord has been with us all this time. He never agreed to something meager, but always encouraged us to do more, and to reach higher. God has bestowed on us new challenges to transform our hearts. The current war has become like the culmination of the internal struggle of our nation against the "Russian world," which we first waged in our hearts. It is like the finale of a battle that begins in our minds and hearts and ends in victory over the "Russian world." It is to put an end to the "Egyptian captivity" for good. The struggle for true freedom costs dearly, but it is worth it.