Friday, July 20, 2012

Soviet Union, Lenin, Stalin, Russia and free at last…..

Here's one which  I read in some very small edition book of Soviet Anecdotes.

An old woman is riding a crowded bus and has to stand with her heavy packages.
Finally, someone in front of her gives up a seat and so she grabs it.
"Thank God," she says.
A man in the seat behind her says, "Excuse me comrade, but this is an atheist
society. You should say 'Thank Stalin,' not 'Thank God.'"
"Of course you are right," the old woman says. "Thank Stalin." She is
silent for a moment, then says: "Comrade, I have just had a terrible thought:
What shall we say when Stalin dies?"
The man behind her replies, "In that case I think we can say 'Thank God.'"

Now here is another interesting one.

I knew of a man of God  who went to see Lenin’s tomb when he was in Moscow. He is sealed in a crystal case. You can see his waxen face and his trimmed beard, and on that tomb these words are written: “He was the greatest leader of all peoples of all countries of all times. He was the lord of the new humanity. He was the savior of the world.”

 (Picture of Lenin)

Do you notice it’s all past tense? He was. Jesus is alive. He is the great I AM. It is an encounter with the living Christ that makes the difference in our lives. We serve a Savior who is alive and listening to our every prayer. He is bottling every tear and rejoicing with every victory.

Today, less than 20 years after the collapse of the officially atheistic Soviet Union, Russia has emerged as the most God-believing nation in Europe, more so than Roman Catholic Italy or Protestant Britain. The independent Public Opinion Fund poll discovered this spring that 82 percent of Russians now say they are religious believers. Given the brutal and ruthless repression by Joseph Stalin of the Russian Orthodox Church and all religion, this is truly a remarkable statistic.

In the worst of times, Stalin’s thugs dynamited spectacular Orthodox cathedrals. They sent the Russian clergy to the gulags; they discriminated against believers in hiring and education; and they stole the churches’ priceless religious icons, selling them in the West for precious hard currency.

The Church and the Russian Federation

Militant atheism was part and parcel of Soviet state policy up until 1943, when Stalin agreed to some compromises with the church in return for support in the war effort. “Militant atheism” meant, in many cases, a violent, hateful attack on religion including the disenfranchisement of the churches, the mocking of rituals, and the oppression of priests and believers up to and including deportation and murder. Right up into the perestroika period, it was associated with some degree of anti-church activity. Churches were used as clubs, concert halls, and museums, including museums of “The History of Atheism and Religion” which emphasized the evils of church history by displaying instruments of torture used in the inquisition. The church hierarchy was spied on and controlled and limitations on free speech were applied more strictly than usual to religious “propaganda”. Anti-church measures continued to get more and more mild in recent decades, however, and, as early as the 1970ies, there were signs of growing acceptance of religiosity in public life. In 1988, the Soviet government joined the Russian Orthodox church in officially celebrating the millennial anniversary of Christianity in Russia. That marked the end of all remaining elements of state suppression of the church.

As we look at the church in North America, it appears that the world can no longer make sense of what we assert to be true by looking at our lives. This is the crisis in our way of life, which is another way of saying "this is our ideological crisis." In these urgent days, therefore, let us stop everything and figure out what has gone wrong in the disparity between what we say and how we live. Let us return to the basic practices of being his people together in the places where we live. Let us pay attention to the Eucharist and the daily reconciliation we must practice in life with one another in this place.

By reading and hearing the Word, let us pay attention to what God is saying and calling us to in our neighborhoods and respond with simple obedience. Let us pay attention to conflict and disagreements and see them as times to submit to one another in fear and trembling, seeking God's voice. It is out of these times that we shall see more clearly what we must do to cooperate with God's work in the world for his salvation. Let us minister and proclaim the gospel to the poor, to those who can teach us how to receive the gospel for our whole lives. Let us minister the gifts of the Spirit to each other, seeking the renewal of all things in our lives and in our neighborhoods. Let us seek the good of the city through the proclamation of the reign of Jesus Christ as Lord. And in so doing, the gospel shall take root in us and our neighborhoods. The ideologization of the church shall be resisted, and God in Christ shall take on flesh in us and come humbly into the neighborhood.

This push toward place is already happening all over North America. Amid all the noise and busyness of North American life, it is the manifesto of the gospel anew. Will we all join in? I see it already happening. Praise be to God. (1)

God's purpose in our lives is to bring us to a realization that everything we have of value is from Him alone. God has a plan and purpose for you, and He will remove anything that will hinder your effectiveness in fulfilling His plan—your job, your friends, your surroundings, your money—anything. God will break all threads of independence until we bow our knee and say, "Yes, Lord."

In your marriage or family, say, "Yes, Lord." In your finances, say, "Yes, Lord." In your emotions and thoughts, say, "Yes, Lord." In your work, say, "Yes, Lord." In your relationships, say, "Yes, Lord." In your service and your church, say, "Yes, Lord."

D. L. Moody said, "It is yet to be seen what God would do through one man's life surrendered totally to Him. I determine to be that man." Moody was never ordained, but he shook three continents with the power of God, because he realized "all things are possible to those that believe" (Luke 1:37). Be decisive for Christ. Commit to Him now. Don't worry about how the world will respond. Jesus will see you through every circumstance and valley.


(1) Dr. David Fitch is Pastor at Life on the Vine and the B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary. 


For the Gospel,

Raj Kosaraju

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