As I’m watching the throngs of refugees desperate to leave the impending devastation, I see innocent faces, wide eyed and totally unaware of the confusion and the fear, as they’re carried through the maelstrom in their mothers’ arms. “That was me”, I say to myself. There were no trains to take us to safety, so we used a leaky fishing boat that was launched from dry dock. It needed time to soak in the Baltic to be seaworthy, but there wasn’t any time. We had to go now if we’re going to make it out. And we did make it to safer shores, and were welcomed, not in Poland as the Ukrainians are, but on small Swedish island in the Baltic. It was 1944 Estonia, and same bad guys were doing the same bad things. For all those years evil has been percolating within the Soviet psyche. Putin wasn’t even alive then, but the evil caught up with him and now it has penetrated the facade he’s been using to hide behind. I don’t think the story is over for Estonia. I keep looking, every day, at the live web cam of. the town square in Parnu, where I was born. It commemorates Estonian independence. I keep checking “if the flag is still there”.
I don’t think Vladimir Putin is acting on behalf of the Russian people, or even his legacy. Even before comments about the change in his demeanour started flying around, I thought he looked like he’s ill. If that is the case, there are no possible deterrents. He has nothing to loose.
So how am I supposed to feel about all this… What has my Christian experience given me to deal with this all my life… The Adventist answer is to turn the other cheek even if I have to grit my teeth to do it. I remember thinking about just this, sitting in Dr. Stafford’s The Bible as Literature class. We were discussing the Sermon on the Mount. The conclusion in that class was that this sermon is mostly misunderstood. Jesus lays out all those that are blessed, but then he gives us examples how that’s supposed to work - turn the other cheek - go the extra mile - give the thief more than what he demands. The conclusion was, nobody is able to do that, in all honesty. These were not marching orders to be obeyed, but a picture of what true goodness would look like - a huge expansion of the commandments. We have to admit we can’t naturally replicate that attitude because we’re broken and we can’t control the feelings that automatically pop up as pure evil is devastating lives in real time - on the screen before us. Remembering, Jesus equates anger with murder.
I took notes during the conversation and I’d like to deal with a couple of the issues that were raised. Something was said about “other realities take over when the church doesn’t live up to promoting peace”; and that the church community needs to promote more love. The community (church) can’t manufacture love in its members as reaching some sort of goal - love creates the community.
There is a lot of behaviour modification promoted by the church (not just SDA). Christian behaviour is held up as a goal, and even as a requirement for membership. This makes us unable to be honest with ourselves and hypercritical. We feel ashamed at being angry. I picked up on those feelings during the conversation. You guys seem to be saying, wishing Putin dead is not what we should be saying but, in this case, maybe we should be absolved because he is really bad. The world is full of bad people, and we hate what they do. Can we say that without equivocation… Are we allowed to hate evil - how do you separate evil from those who so blatantly commit it? Are we allowed to combat evil?
For me, the answer is within the “Sermon on the Mount” - the bar is higher than we thought. The bar is higher than we’re told by the church. All the church wants is to see a congregation that is perceptively “representative” of its ideals. That makes us superficial. It sets the bar low enough so that we think we can actually live up to it - that would make the Gospel unnecessary. There is a fine line to walk. Paul warns us not to increase sin just because it’s forgiven. But it also makes us dishonest about who we really are.
The other issue that’s related to all this - should we take up arms to combat evil? Well, if you pick up the sword, be prepared to die by one;( but, it appears Peter did carry one.) I think we’re witnessing that kind of love (of country) that dares to confront pure evil.
Then there’s David and his slingshot… This story has even been made into a Primary SS song.
By the way - the Balkans and the Baltics are two different areas.