Leonid Padun: "Civil stand of believer"

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city”

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Prosperity. Each person associates this word with the idea of something good: wealth and comfort. Everyone wants to have a nice house, car, job, family. There is nothing wrong with that. God wants us to prosper in all things and be happy. But He is against us to stay in our cozy little world behind the solid walls of selfishness.

Today, few people care about people’s lives – everyone only cares about his well-being. Classical picture: worked shift, brought home “prey”, ate, watched TV and went to bed. But is this all, for which man was created?

Each of us is a part of society, citizen of the country, resident of the city. This is not a pretentious word, but reality. The Word of God tells us to take care of the prosperity of the place where He put us and pray about it.

To take care and to pray is not one and the same. Prayer is the most important and fundamental condition for a good change, but care is our practical actions. God always cooperates with the person and He does good deeds on earth through people. For evil to prevail it is enough for good just to do nothing. English parliamentarian and writer Edmund Burke has rightly observed: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”.

Civil stand in the Bible

Many Christians take a passive role in society, excusing themselves by the “separation of church and state”. Yes, church is separated from the state. But the Church is not separated from the society and the people. Church is the “light of the world” and “salt of the earth”. If the light does not shine and the salt loses its strength, then comes the darkness and spiritual “decomposition”.

A lot of people in the Bible have made history because of his passionate love for God, for people and for their country. They were not indifferent, but did everything possible in prayer and good works.

Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, glorifies God and says: “…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers “ (Luke 1:47,54-55).

When, according to the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to dedicate Him to God, they were met there Simeon, “who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25). Simeon did not just live with the attitude of “the main thing that I’m good and I do not care about the rest”. Israel was so close to his heart! I think that if Simeon lived in Ukraine, it would be written about him: “man was righteous, devout and waiting for the consolation of Ukraine”.

Anna, an elderly widow, who “never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying”, also was looking for the redemption of her nation. It is written that “coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem“ (Luke 2:37-38). Anna saw the human suffering, she saw that Israel was occupied by the Romans, saw the oppression and enslavement of the people. One would think: what could change the 84-year-old widow? But, nevertheless, this woman has influenced the course of history! Anna has not just quietly lived out her life, doing everyday activities. She fervently prayed for her nation, her country, and I am sure that to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ was not only a part of John the Baptist, but also a part of Anna.

Jeremiah was a part of his people, he was deeply worried about them: “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1). “Although our sins testify against us, O LORD, do something for the sake of your name. For our backsliding is great; we have sinned against you. O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress…You are among us, O LORD, and we bear your name; do not forsake us!“ (Jeremiah 14:7-9).

Apostles walked with Jesus Christ for three and a half years. He taught them the principles, the laws of the Kingdom of God. And after Jesus died, was resurrected and appeared to them, they asked Him: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). In other words: “Jesus, Your resurrection is the greatest miracle of all, we have seen, and this proves that You are the Lord and all the power belongs to You. Are You at this time going to restore our country?”.

During all this time the apostles didn’t change their attitude to their own country, because Jesus never said anything that would embarrass them and force them to take a different attitude to their nation that would isolate them from society, from the country. He corrected them, clarified certain things, speaking of the right times and seasons, but He did not say that they think wrong in this respect!

Prophets, priests, apostles and other people, called by God, did not just selfishly live in their own little world, but passionately looking for the redemption of their people, the liberation and prosperity of their country. They were part of the people, sharing all their sorrow and joy.

What would Jesus Christ do in the streets of our city? He would look for those who need His help! Jesus is always ready to help the needy, heal the sick, give hope to disappointed, and today He wants to do it through the Christians who follow Him not in words but in deeds.

Good changes around us begin with our personal relationship to our people and our country. And if in our hearts there is no indifference, but a love for people and a desire to do something good for our nation, God will help us. He will send our good desires in the right direction and will give everything we need to implement them!