Ukraine: How does the Bible apply?

      | Ni New Christian Bible Study Staff
A painting of St. Sophia's Cathedral in Kiev.

Here at the New Christian Bible Study, one of our core beliefs is that the Bible has been given to us -- and preserved for millennia -- because it's for guiding everyday life, for helping us make good everyday decisions.

We can't just theoretically "love our neighbor" and "love the Lord". We have to bring them down to the physical level, into life: "How am I going to live by those precepts today, right now?"

We try not to be partisan. We often look at personal, general issues -- how to act, how to fight evil tendencies in ourselves, how to find truth in the Lord's Word. And then, sometimes, world issues intrude so much that if we don't address them, we're being too abstract, or even uncaring. This is one of those times. The decision by Russian leaders to invade Ukraine is so salient, so big, so destructive... that we've got to think through it, coming to it from what we can glean from the Bible. (And, to be clear... there's a distinction between the Russian people here, and the country's leadership.)

What jumps out? So many things:

Thou shalt not murder. (Exodus 20:13)

Thou shalt not steal. (Exodus 20:15)

Thou shalt not bear false witness. (Exodus 20:16)

Thou shalt not covet. (Exodus 20:17)

You shall not steal, and you shall not deceive, and you shall not do falsely. (Leviticus 19:11)

The Golden Rule: "Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

"Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18:14)

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40)

What should the nations of the world do? The famous parable of the good Samaritan keeps coming to mind. Do we want to be like the priest and Levite who ignore the wounded man? (Luke 10:25-37)

Now, when the world is facing something like this, we can and should get the ideas out on the table, and talk about the best practical ways to stop the destruction, and to help the people in need. Maybe we could have stopped it before it started. And now, it seems like this invasion has focused peoples' and nations' minds. The evil of it is clear. Good people are being moved to respond.

John Stuart Mill, speaking to students at the University of St. Andrews, back in 1867, said,

“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." (See more details at this link.)

There's a lot to think about. Here's one more quote to close this out, this one from Swedenborg's "Secrets of Heaven", written back in 1750:

"This situation also follows from the nature of evil and the nature of goodness. Evil by its nature wants to wound everyone; goodness by its nature wants to hurt no one. The evil feel they are fully alive when they go on the offensive, because they are always wanting to destroy. The good feel they are fully alive when they are not attacking anyone but are taking advantage of the opportunity to help others by protecting them from evil." (Secrets of Heaven 1683).