In the last week, you may have witnessed Putin quoting from the Bible to endorse his horrific actions in Ukraine. It was a sickening example of how people twist scriptures for their own ends.
Let me be unequivocally clear – There is nothing Christ-like or Christ-led about Putin’s war against Ukraine. His actions are thoroughly anti-Christian, which is why we condemn them so wholeheartedly and continue to stand with the people of Ukraine.
Last Sunday, Jumoke gave an impassioned talk as part of our ‘Seeking Justice’ series looking at how the early church responded to an issue of injustice with Greek-speaking widows.
It reminded me of these words that James, Jesus’ step-brother, wrote in James 1:27…
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
These words remind us that religion isn’t a set of rules, it’s a way of life – the way of Jesus.
As we draw closer to Jesus each day, His character rubs off on us. As we surrender to the much-needed heart surgery of God’s gentle Spirit, our hearts become softer and therefore able to soak up, and flow with, God’s relentless love and kindness.
We become rivers of that love and kindness, particularly to those who need it the most.
The way of Jesus is the way of sacrificial, other-centred, love. The way of Jesus doesn’t BLOW people up (with words or bombs). The way of Jesus BUILDS people up. Anything other than this is NOT the way of Jesus – is not the true religion of God the Father.
So if it doesn’t sound like love – if it doesn’t look like kindness – if it doesn’t smell like the fresh dew of hope – then it’s ain’t the way of Jesus.
Accept no substitutes.
Reject horrific abuses of biblical texts.
Ignore the fake and phony.
Discover instead the beautiful, bright way of Jesus; good news for EVERYONE in a hurting world – particularly the poor and the oppressed.
Remember, we can’t do everything, but we do something. We can’t help everyone, but we can help someone. Let’s keep asking the Holy Spirit to show us what how we can make a difference.
May God put some more fire in our belly to live lives of mercy and justice.