We watch with dismay and outrage as hospitals are shelled, pregnant mothers lose their babies, and missiles rain down on helpless civilians. This, and much more, should make clear to us that evil is very real.
On the flip side, we have seen great acts of heroism, courage and sacrifice. We watch, mesmerised, as firefighters rush towards burning buildings to save those trapped inside, as husbands and fathers transport their wives and children to safety before returning to defend their homes, and as mothers stay strong to shelter and care for their terrified little ones. All this should make clear to us that goodness is also a very real thing.
This beauty and brokenness, so evident in wartime, is part of the make-up of every single human being. That is the assessment of the Bible.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Roman Christians, writes that people “show the work of the law written in their hearts” (Romans 2:15). People have a deep sense of what is good, and at times they witness to it in their actions. Paul then writes in the next chapter that “there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23). So we have beauty and an appreciation of good built into our inner being by a good God. We are made in His image and have inherent worth, and sometimes we act according to it. But there is also something noticeably wrong within us. We may aspire after the good, but we think and do evil things. We have come to realise that there is a dark corner in our nature. God calls this sin. And we each have it. The novelist Solzhenitsyn wrote that “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being”.1
An answer to the current Ukraine war might be found around a table of dialogue with some kind of political brokering of peace – we pray that this will be so. However, the deeper answer to war itself, and the evil that produces it, can only be found in God cleansing and changing us as individuals, from the inside out. We need forgiveness for past sins but we also need the new birth by God’s Spirit (John 3:3-7) – this alone will give us the power to not succumb to the sinful urges of our heart. Only if we find peace with God our Maker will we have the foundation for true peace with our fellow human beings.
Paul, again writing to the Romans, says: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). It is only through God’s Son, Jesus – His substitutionary death and powerful resurrection – that we can be cleared of the guilt of our sins (i.e., justified), and have a lasting peace with God established. He alone is the answer to individual peace, and He will ultimately be the answer to world peace.
The Gospel promise is that if we place our faith in Christ, we will receive this peace right now. Why not let peace break out between yourself and God today?
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
Photo credit: By Kyivcity.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=116108015