"If you had known what these words mean,
'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,'
you would not have condemned the innocent."
ARE WE REALLY STRONG?
I studied marketing at the seminars provided by the Keio University Business School. I remember how deeply I was touched by the words of our old Japanese Professor, See, Maharinsky-san, we teach our children from the very beginning, that IF YOU WISH TO BE STRONG, HELP THE WEAKEST. This Japanese logic stands in absolute opposition to our Russian understanding of ‘strength:’ Use your elbows to clean your way. Don’t be meek!
The Bible mentions mercy as one of the Christian virtues, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Yet many people fail to understand, that the meekness of Christ means not weakness, but strength. Jesus was meek on the cross, having all the resources of the Father at his command. Christ’s meekness is the fruit of his ultimate power.
Russian people historically used to trade their freedom on purpose. It is easier to blame someone else for your own problems: God, the Tsar, the Communists. One of my former colleagues was so proud to say, that there are almost 100 churches in one of the regions of Russia. I told her, "Do you know that there were over 1000 churches in that region before the Communist Revolution? We did not get so weak a Church because of the Revolution we've got the Revolution because of a weak Church."
Avoiding personal responsibility for our destiny, we are constantly loosing the power given us by Christ: the power to help the weakest. The power to proclaim mercy not sacrifices.
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Lk.13:1-5)
Some days before last Christmas I visited one of my friends. In spite of the terribly cold Moscow winter night, I was happy to see her still energetic, leading the Bible study. We read the Book of Hosea and discussed the 11th of September.
There is a letter circulating among the Russian Protestants, translated from English. The main idea: God has punished the rich and corrupted America. Unfortunately, my friend has shared that position. She began to tell us about some strong preacher whom he heard recently being in the U.S.
I tried to change the listeners’ attitudes, saying that a Christian response should be true compassion, not gloating. Jesus pointed out in Lk. 13:1-5, that we must not think, that the victims were less righteous than we ourselves. America is hardly less righteous than Russia. There are many problems in America, but you cannot expect to bribe the US traffic police, as even Evangelicals used to do in Moscow. Children and women used to be abused and beaten in silence even in the homes of Russian Evangelicals.
Right after the Russian Revolution the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church doubted whether to help prisoners of the Communist regime. The Patriarch said that there are no absolutely innocent people in prisons. One of the hearers answered, My lord, you have forgotten Christ.
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