Continuing "God Pulls"...

But human power is used against God's efforts. This was seen in the way Jesus was treated, and the way many of his followers have been treated throughout history. And God always suffers with them. Not because human power can harm God, but because the fight against God's pull is a rejection of his love, a rejection by the ones he loves. God suffers because of us, because he loves us.

If we are acting with God's love, this is our suffering also: the pain of being rejected by the ones we love. And this is made even more difficult because this rejection is not just by a few individuals. It is rejection by the majority. As Jesus said, "The world hates you, but know that it has hated me before it hated you." Because it is the majority—and the overwhelming power of the majority—against us, it doesn't feel like our good efforts are being rejected by a few ungrateful people. It seems like everything is turning against us. It can seem like we are being isolated, and even God has abandoned us.

It is in those moments of rejection that it is most important to be able to feel and recognize the pull of God's love. This is how we are reassured that God has not forgotten us. And God's pull in these moments provides the creativity and strength to respond to this rejection—this alienating, threatening rejection—with love. Jesus described what that love looks like, when he said, "If any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to them the other also." This is the way of loving those who reject God's pull.

This love in the midst of rejection is what Jesus was talking about when we said to his followers, "Take up your cross and follow me."



"На месте кратера от бомбы"

I want to remember these words from my friend in Kharkiv:

"На месте кратера от бомбы растут весенние цветы"

 In place of the bomb crater, spring flowers grow.


"хорошие парни"

A friend I met online lives in Kharkiv, and his city is currently being bombed and shelled, including civilian areas. He has written to me almost every day since the invasion. His heritage is Russian, though he has lived all his life in Ukraine. Today I wrote to him (in Russian):

Я согласен, что то, что происходит сейчас - это братоубийство. Война - это всегда ужасное братоубийство. Но я думаю, что лучше, когда власть народов разделена. Многие россияне считают Соединенные Штаты злом из-за того, что они сделали. А многие в моей стране считают Россию злом из-за того, что сделала Россия. И я согласен, что у обеих сторон есть веские причины так думать! Каждый народ творит много зла, используя ту власть, которой он обладает.

В английском языке есть известная поговорка: "Власть развращает; абсолютная власть развращает абсолютно". Есть ли такая поговорка в русском языке? По моему опыту, это правда. Поэтому я благодарен за то, что ни одно правительство не обладает всей полнотой власти. Я плачу и ужасаюсь тому, как люди воюют друг с другом. Но в каком-то смысле я благодарен и за то, что они разделены и противостоят друг другу, потому что это ограничивает их власть и ограничивает зло, которое они могут творить. И их ужасные деяния на войне очень ясно показывают нам всем, что ни одна из сторон, которая сражается и убивает, не является "хорошими парнями". (И те, кто душит российский народ санкциями, тоже не "хорошие парни"). Это показывает нам, что мы не должны следовать за могущественными лидерами любой страны.

Я последователь Иисуса, и Иисус сказал: "Никто не благ, кроме Бога". Я верю в это. Все, что в нас есть хорошего, - от Бога. И я верю, что мы должны сложить свою власть и делать только то, о чем просит нас Бог, а именно "любить друг друга". Тогда мы будем жить в мире.

(Читали ли вы Толстого? Достоевского? Думаю, они бы со мной согласились.)

Я молюсь о мужестве для вас. И милости Божией к народу Украины. Даже когда люди творят зло, Бог творит добро. 


I agree that what is happening now is fratricide. War is always horrible fratricide. But I think it's better when the power of nations is divided. Many Russians think the United States is evil because of what it has done. And many in my country think Russia is evil because of what Russia has done. And I agree that both sides have good reason to think so! Every nation does a lot of evil using the power it has.

There is a well-known saying in English: "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Is there such a saying in the Russian language? In my experience, it is true. So I am thankful that no government has all the power. I cry and am horrified at the way people fight with each other. But in a way I am also thankful that they are divided and opposed to each other, because it limits their power and limits the evil they can do. And their terrible acts in war show us all very clearly that neither side that fights and kills are the "good guys." (And those who strangle the Russian people with sanctions are not the "good guys" either.) This shows us that we should not follow the powerful leaders of any country.

I am a follower of Jesus, and Jesus said: "No one is good but God." I believe that. Everything that is good in us is from God. And I believe that we must lay down our power and do only what God asks us to do, which is "love one another." Then we will live in peace.

(Have you read Tolstoy? Dostoevsky? I think they would agree with me.)

I pray for courage for you. And God's mercy for the people of Ukraine. Even when people do evil, God does good.