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The Light of the World 


Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of those who are destitute Proverbs 31: 8-9

I began reading about potentially big increases in the cost of oil and gas last summer. Then, last autumn, energy companies - including my own supplier - started going broke. One after the other. Something serious was going on, something was upsetting the world energy market. But I couldn’t pretend to understand exactly what. I just knew that my energy costs were going to rise dramatically. There would be consequences for me, and I knew, pain for those less able to afford any sort of increase.

Then something else happened. Something that I think I do understand. Something where I can see how cause and effect are connected. Russia, a big supplier of oil and gas, invaded Ukraine. This action has received almost universal condemnation in the West. I’m sure you are familiar with the background and the arguments. I won’t go into them any further. But what can we actually do about it? There is a whole range of possibilities, some of which lead to an existential threat to the whole world as we know it. How far are we prepared to go in responding? I think most of us feel we can’t just let this pass - that we have to do something to stand up for what is right and what is wrong. But what’s an appropriate response based on Christian faith?

On a personal and church level, we pray to our sovereign God for peace and for the Holy Spirit to come in power to stop this conflict. As well as those in Ukraine, we offer a prayer too for any regular, innocent Russian citizens who are experiencing hardship, trauma and loss as a result of the war. If we can, we donate money to the charities like the DEC and Innovista to help those still in Ukraine and those refugees who are fleeing to safety. Some may even consider opening their homes and lives to refugees.

On a governmental level, one meaningful and practical thing we could do would be to stop buying oil and gas from Russia. The sooner we do this, the quicker we can exert pressure on the Putin regime by reducing its valuable income of foreign currency. But, on the other hand, reducing the world supply will push up energy costs just at a time when these were already shooting up. It will be very difficult for people here, as well as for those in Russia. And it will be much more difficult for those least able to pay. But of course, any hardships we might face are nothing compared to what many in Ukraine are going through. And when things are already really difficult is precisely the time when we most need to steel ourselves and stand up for what is right.

Deciding what is “right” and “wrong”, and how and when to act can be complicated. But we are called to work these things through. We are called to be salt and light to the world. We are called to show the way to Jesus but also to live in a way that reflects Jesus. As William J. Toms said:

“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”

Jesus suffered for us beyond our comprehension. What is our response to His sacrifice?

Heavenly Father, we lift the situation in Ukraine to you. We pray for all those who are suffering in ways that are unimaginable to us. We ask that you bring about peace through the work of your Holy Spirit. We ask for safe corridors for convoys of aid.  We ask for shelter and provision for the refugee and the wounded and the vulnerable. Help the governments of the world to make wise and courageous decisions. In the midst of this darkness, we ask for the light of Jesus to shine. Amen

Penny Cox, 14/03/2022