I was so naïve. I assumed moving European country boundaries by force was a remnant of the last century’s ideological horrors. But history is repeating itself with trenches, cannon fodder, and tactics reminiscent of the 1914 war. My heart hurts for the Russian and Ukrainian mothers who would gladly give away the conquered territory in return for their sons’ lives.
We yearn for peace because we value life and the tranquility that makes life worth living. That’s why war, surrender, and peace form such an emotional picture of God’s grace toward us. “Have you made your peace with God?” is a question that points to God’s love and mercy.
How is one at war with God? Here’s one way: “Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4). Let those who would reinvent God to reflect modern sensibilities take note. British author Dorothy Sayers writes, “I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offence in it…We cannot blink the fact that gentle Jesus meek and mild was so stiff in His opinions and so inflammatory in His language that He was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever His peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference.”
It’s a peace that is settled on God’s terms as revealed in the Bible. It’s you and I who must surrender our trenches, wave the white flag, and sue for peace. “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). In the inimitable words of C.S. Lewis, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel…Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor-that is the only way out of our ‘hole.’ This process of surrender-this movement full speed astern-is what Christians call repentance.”
Surrender in the form of repentance and faith leads to reconciliation between you and your Creator. It’s not a way of restoring your version of a tenuous, uncertain truce. Rather, it’s beginning new life in Christ. “While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son…Having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
One of the apparent outcomes of the war in Ukraine is that churches (over there and here) are growing with new Ukrainian believers who have seen the devastations of war and are finding their peace with God. Perhaps that’s because the picture of grace is so powerful and real.