Pictures of devastated Mariupol have shocked us, people sitting among the ruins of their previous life, feeling the agony of loss and deep anxiety about their future. For Ukraine’s people, Russia’s invasion has drastically ended their previous way of life.
In a less intense way, we too in the UK have seen our previous life threatened. The pandemic, still not over, has impacted us in so many ways. Energy price rises now threaten the security of many households. The impacts of economic sanctions from the Ukraine war, yet to be significantly felt, will surely bring extra pressures. In the background, though largely ignored because of more immediate challenges, the slow burn of the climate and environmental crises continues. All this is at a time when our society’s increasing polarisation and intolerance, particularly in gender, race and politics, undermines our ability to respond with unity to these challenges.
In combination, these factors threaten the relatively comfortable and safe way of life we and other developed nations have enjoyed for many years. The loss of this security is disturbing. One of my friends cried because of the financial uncertainties. Another expressed pain at having brought children into the world at this time. A child wept, imagining his father might have to go to war with Russia.
Yet such troubles should not surprise us. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The New Testament is filled with stories of hardship and persecution, alongside mighty works of the Holy Spirit, growth of the church, and God rescuing his people from harms. Perhaps the extended period of stability and prosperity we have enjoyed has blinded us to both the harsh conditions of the world and the mighty power of God to save, heal, protect and provide.
Disturbing though current trends are, they bring an opportunity to grasp once again both the reality of sin in the world and the power of God’s kingdom among us. We are called to be the light of the world, a light which can shine all the more brightly as the surroundings become darker. This is likely to be a difficult and at times painful journey, but with the potential for us to grow up into Christ and to fulfil his desires to bring salvation to the world.
Against this background, I want to use this blog to explore relevant issues, hopefully combining biblical themes with understanding of the times. For me this is definitely the start of a journey rather than an arrival, but I hope it will be helpful to some as we navigate these challenging times.