War is an abomination (April 2022)
Updated: May 6
John Chrysostom, an early church bishop, sought to bring clarity, hope and the Gospel to a world that was harsh, violent and where the principal state-craft was warfare... something we may have thought was a thing of the past in the post-modern West of the Twenty-first century. His words still speak to us today:
“War is an abomination. It is quite wrong that one nation, or tribe, should attack another in pursuit of land, power, or wealth. It is doubly wrong that the victors should proclaim the glory of their battles, while their victims lie maimed and dying.
The glory of war is illusory; war brings only misery. Yet this does not mean that military service is a dishonorable profession, nor that carrying arms impedes salvation. Every emperor, king and prince must have soldiers to protect his realm from attack, and his people from robbery and murder. An army is necessary to keep peace with other nations, and to keep peace within a nation.
What, then, if the king orders his army to perform an evil act, such as invading a neighbouring nation? Should the Christian soldier disobey his orders, even at the risk of being executed for his disobedience? In such a situation, he must weigh one evil against another: the evil of participating in the invasion, against the evil of leaving his family without material support. None of us can presume to judge the soldier's decision; but rather, we must pray that the Spirit guides his conscience.”
[+ Saint John Chrysostom, 4th century. He was an early 'Church Father' who served as archbishop of Constantinople. He is known for his preaching, public speaking and denunciating the abuse of authority.]
What is our response?
As we respond to the evil that is being carried out in Ukraine, let us:
First call it what it is: evil (speak truth).
Respond in prayer (seek God).
Take practical action (seek to help).
Take courage* (seek real hope).
* This imperfect world needs a Saviour. His name is Jesus, 'The Prince of Peace'. To a broken world he promises peace and a new form of Kingdom and loving rule; defeating the 'Abomination of Desolation' (Matt 24, Daniel 9, Revelation 8).
As a church and individuals, we pray regularly and I encourage each of us to consider the material support we can give towards the growing number of traumatised refugees, torn from families and communities. Yes, oil prices are rising and inflation is hitting every aspect of our lives, but this is insignificant when compared to the lack of shelter, food, warmth, and in the face of unspeakable fear. People are dying who shouldn't be.
Welcoming. The UK Government is developing a scheme to help refugees find a home. If you would like to register to offer help visit: www.sanctuaryfoundation.org.uk