Total depravity is alive and well.
There was a thesis put forth 30 years ago by a political philosopher named Francis Fukuyama in a book entitled The End of History and the Last Man. At a time when the Berlin Wall had recently fallen followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, he argued that liberal democracy is the best and inevitable form of government. He predicted its spread, eventually, across the entire globe which would lead to increasing economic prosperity and individual liberty. Hence the end of Soviet communism was “the end of history.”
“[Soviet disintegration is] not just … the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: That is, the end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”
To be fair, Fukuyama did not predict this would happen immediately and completely. Still, his optimism 30 years later seems naïve. The rise of jihadists and radical Islamic states, the strengthening of the totalitarian Chinese Communist party (in spite of the quasi-capitalist system they employ and the economic growth they have experienced), and the hungering for Russian empire by the dictator Putin all demonstrate how difficult it is to establish democracy, and how diligent we ought to be to safeguard our liberties against an ever-encroaching state within liberal democracies like ours.
Putin’s aggression goes way back and has been part of his vision for Russia from the beginning. He was in East Berlin in 1989 at the fall of the Berlin Wall as a KGB agent and considered it a complete failure of leadership to not violently enforce Soviet dominance. In his 2005 state of the union speech he lamented the crumbling of the evil Soviet regime:
First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.
He invaded Georgia in 2008 and annexed Crimea in 2014, a peninsula in the Black Sea and part of the Ukraine. His attack on the entire country of Ukraine (population 40 million), now the largest ground war in Europe since WWII, is very much in line with his dreams of reuniting the old Russian Empire. It has led to death and misery, nearly 2.5 million refugees, and fierce resistance by Ukrainian forces as well as civilians. They are following the example of their courageous president Zellenskyy who continues to lobby the West (what a speech!) to aid their cause against Putin’s unprovoked and murderous attempt to bring a free country under his control.
It is amazing how connected our world is. One of our congregation members knows the pastor of a ministry called Voice of the Martyrs North Korea. VOM is a ministry dedicated to helping the persecuted church worldwide. This particular branch of VOM has committed to helping Ukranian Christians. Think about how convicting this is for a moment. Ministering in North Korea cannot be a simple, straightforward effort. They probably aren’t twiddling their thumbs. Yet they are actively seeking to serve Ukrainian Christians by providing for their physical and spiritual needs. And both are important, especially in a time of war.
“As the Russian-Ukrainian conflict drags on, some Christians in Ukraine are literally taking their churches underground in an effort to survive missile and artillery attacks, while other Christians have little choice but to seek supplies and safety as temporary refugees in neighboring countries like Poland and Moldova. But both groups of Christians are witnessing some common themes: an upsurge in religious hunger among their fellow Ukrainians, along with a concern that religious restrictions may soon prevent those hungers from being satisfied.
Always during times of war, people search for hope as much as they search for food and shelter. The Ukraine Bible Society announced last week that they are nearly out of Bibles as a result of the upsurge of spiritual interest among ordinary Ukrainians.”
When death is imminent, people inevitably look to that which is beyond death. They know that their hope is not in this life. Believers in Jesus know this already, but this belief is surely tested in a time of war. That is why this clip of Ukrainian believers singing “He will hold me fast” is so encouraging.
Another congregation member who works for Deloitte (a global tax and accounting firm) asks for prayers for the people in their Kyiv office. Deloitte has a global disaster network “feverishly trying to locate and support” those who are still missing from that office.
Brothers and sisters, let us pray for Ukraine:
- For the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be believed by desperate people who no longer have the comforts that dull us from eternal realities
- For the protection of innocent lives
- For the end of violence
- For continued resistance to the Russian military on the part of Ukrainian forces, both military and civilian
- For an end to Putin’s power
- For our country and Western democratic nations to wisely and courageously aid and help the Ukraine
- For provision for refugees
- For those already mourning the death of loved ones
- For peace in our world
We know that one day war will cease. May it happen soon. In the way that God revealed the latter days to Isaiah, we trust that these days will come fully when the Prince of Peace returns.
2 It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
5 O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord.
— Isaiah 2:2-5