Monday, March 4 2024 - 8:56 PM

Sharing Scripture — September 16, 2023

The Call to Stand

 

For use: September 10 – 16, 2023
Texts: Ephesians 6:10–20; Deuteronomy 20:2–4; Romans 13:11–14; 1 Thessalonians 5:6–8; 1 Corinthians 15:23, 24

 

Imagine watching your friends and comrades be simultaneously killed from the blast of a bomb, and you’re one of few remaining … staring down an assault drone.

That’s the situation Russian soldier Ruslan Anitin found himself in after Ukrainian assault drones eliminated his platoon.

“At that time, we had a ‘copter with explosives ready to eliminate him,” Yuriy Fedorenko, commander of the “Achilles” assault drone division of the Ukraine’s 92nd Brigade, said in a statement to CNN.

“When he realized that he was going to die, he threw his machine gun aside, raised his hands and [gestured] that he would not continue to fight.”

It was after this desperate plea from Anitin that the drone pilot dropped a written message with an order to surrender … and an order to trust the pilot to lead him to safety.

After communicating with hand signals and drone movements, the two formed a bond that can only be explained as unprecedented. The drone guided the soldier through the battlefield, dodging artillery, before halting at the edge of an Ukrainian post. There, Anitin fell to his knees, stripping himself of his body armor before being taken into custody.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the drone pilot reportedly said, “Despite that he is an enemy […] I still felt sorry for him.”

Anitin was one of the last men standing on Bakhmut’s bloody battleground known to the Russians as a “meat grinder” – where Russian soldiers are sent to die. And in the eyes of war, Anitin deserved nothing less than death. But because of the compassion of the Ukrainian pilot, Anitin got a second chance at life. He just had to surrender it first.

Just as Anitin stripped himself of his identity as a Russian soldier, we are asked to put off our old selves and “to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV).

The new self, Paul explains in Ephesians 6:10-20, must be clothed in the full armor of God: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, footwear of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Only then will we be able to stare down and withstand the enemy.

Paul outlines throughout the book of Ephesians and many other letters of his that the situation is serious. We are engaged in active, spiritual warfare. We have been led by Satan into a battle that we cannot win. God is not willing that we should perish, and when we heed and put our trust in God’s word, the Holy Spirit will guide us into God’s camp where we surrender ourselves and receive a renewed heart that yearns for our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our testimonies will be revelations of God’s compassion and of Christ’s love.

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: If you can handle somewhat distressing footage, watch the Wall Street Journal footage of Ruslan Anitin and the Ukrainian drone fleeing enemy fire. How does it make you feel? Why?

Sharing: Is it possible to be partially clothed with the armor of God?

  1. No, all components are made available with the presence of the Holy Spirit
  2. Yes, if we are not truly committed, we can preach truth and believe in our self-righteousness without equipping the shield, helmet, or sword
  3. Yes, they may gradually fall away when we lose footing and decide to join enemy lines
  4. No, once saved = always saved = always fully clothed
  5. I don’t know…
  6. Other:

Applying: People unfamiliar with Bible teachings view God as vindictive and violent, and Jesus as meek and mild. Father and Son are almost seen as a god of war and a god of love. Discuss with your group how this incorrect interpretation of the Godhead can be politely refuted despite the fact that our Prince of Peace leads us in spiritual warfare.

Valuing: Reflect on what strategies have been the most helpful to you when in dark times. Do these methods reflect self-reliance or surrender to God? How can you make it a practice to rely on God in every moment?

 

~ Stefani Leeper

 

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