Author: Nicole Speer
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear… ~1 John 4:18
Last night, Russia’s sociopathic dictator started bombing cities across Ukraine, killing innocent people and traumatizing millions of others for the sake of his and his fellow oligarchs’ wealth and power. I find myself filled with sadness for my fellow Europeans’ suffering, anger at world leaders whose willingness to overlook and even promote authoritarianism for decades facilitated this violence, and guilt for my role in upholding
a society that worships the false gods of militarism, racism, and materialism.
I am also afraid, for the people of Ukraine and for our whole Earth community.
It is easy to let fear take over as we face yet another moment of global uncertainty, but today I have found myself reflecting not on my fear but on the fearlessness that comes from love. Love is an active force, a gift from God. As 1 John tells us, we can use times of fear to open ourselves to love and find courage, peace, and sometimes even the changes we need to bring about a more just and compassionate world.
Today I have seen more and more photos of everyday Russians protesting their military’s attacks on Ukraine. Russians live under a dangerous, authoritarian regime where even the simple act of peaceful protest will get them arrested and possibly tortured, imprisoned, or killed. And yet less than 24 hours after their authoritarian leader invaded a neighboring nation, they are turning out by the thousands in cities across their country to stand up for their neighbors.
This is love in action, casting out fear.
When we love others as ourselves, their joy is our joy. Their pain is our pain. Their suffering is our suffering. When we love others as ourselves, standing up for each other stops being optional and becomes as necessary as breathing. And when we love others as ourselves, we see with clarity the ways we harm ourselves and each other by being complacent in the face of injustice.
This is not a moment for complacency, nor is it a moment to let fear overwhelm us. This is a moment for love. No amount of sanctions or defensive actions will deter Russian aggression like the love the Russian people are showing for their neighbors. So I will pray for peace, but as we face the potential for a bigger war, I pray for a love that defies fear not just in Russia but in our country and everywhere there is injustice.
Lord, help us remember that we are not powerless in the face of evil. Let your love be like a shield upon us, that we may transform it into courage for these days. Amen.