The situation in Ukraine has me thinking that those of us who profess to hold a biblical worldview may be in need of a spiritual check-up. Several recent studies have shown that we are not as engaged with the Bible as in previous generations and that we no longer consider it the literal Word of God. With a record low 9% of Americans using the Bible daily, according to the American Bible Society, and only 20% recognizing it as God’s Word, according to Gallup, it is no wonder that most Christians are not living in a way that reflects the Bible’s teachings or what would be considered biblical values.
One of the ways in which we are seeing this carried out is a lack of compassion and concern for others. We have become a remarkably selfish society with an extremely short attention span. Consider Ukraine, for example. When Russia first invaded, we were glued to our television sets for updates, and millions of dollars were raised for humanitarian aid in a matter of days. Now, as the war rages on with more Ukrainians than ever facing danger and being forced to flee their homes, it’s barely a footnote in our news programming.
At first, there was an urgency to encourage our government to pledge its support. Many commitments were made, but have we paid enough attention to see that barely any of these promises have been kept? Ukraine remains in desperate need of military equipment, people’s homes are being bombed and their children are being killed, yet we would rather complain about our own rising food costs. There will be far more Ukrainians than Americans starving and freezing to death this winter, yet we seem to care more about the latest political argument or celebrity drama.
While it’s discouraging for us to observe this about ourselves, it’s even more disheartening to realize that people around the world, and especially in Ukraine, are watching us and seeing how self-absorbed and inwardly focused we are. We claim to be “One Nation under God,” yet the Ukrainians who hear that may think “that is not the God I’m reading about in my Bible.”
Older generation Christians tend to be great hearers of the Word, but far too often it doesn’t translate into action, as the biblical author James contends. Younger generations are all about taking action for social justice — the doing — but they aren’t engaging with the Word at all. The American Bible Society study referenced above reported that those who are 77 years and older are most likely to be Scripture engaged (31%) and that engagement drops with each younger generation. We need both the “hearing” of the older generations with the “doing” of the younger.
This is why the Bible is having such an impact in Ukraine, despite the deteriorating conditions. Believers in that country and missionaries who are serving Ukrainian refugees are living this out far better than we are here in the States. At EEM (Eastern European Mission), we are hearing stories of new believers who say, “I wanted to learn about Jesus because of the way Christians cared about me — a total stranger.” I am so grateful for those in Ukraine who have remained faithful to the Bible and its teachings, and as such, are serving the hurting people around them with great love and compassion.
They remind us that our biblical worldview needs to be grounded in the Bible and needs to have an outward focus. Do we notice the people around us who are in need of hearing about God’s love for them? And are our hearts broken for the people of Ukraine and the horrific acts of aggression that have been perpetrated against them? We cannot let our senses become dull or just sit back and receive what the media “feeds us.” Let’s stop wasting our time tuning into news coverage that really doesn’t deserve our attention, and let’s hold our leaders accountable for the promises of urgent assistance that have been made. And finally, let’s return to a respect for and engagement with God’s Word that will help us keep our perspectives rightfully aligned.
Bob Burckle and Dirk Smith are President and Vice President, respectively, of Eastern European Mission, which has been delivering God’s Word to the people of Eastern Europe since 1961, now reaching 32 countries in 25 languages. They provided 1.5 million Bibles and Bible-based materials free of charge in the region in 2021, including in public schools in Croatia, Romania and Ukraine. Through their annual children’s Bible campaign, they seek to raise funds to provide 800,000 requested children’s Bibles in 19 languages. Learn more at www.eem.org.