Millions of people have kind hearts and want to help those who are poor or in distress. But when men and women start to follow Jesus earnestly, they discover that deep within them their view of the world is changing. Seeing the world through God’s eyes they recognise that there is an urgent need to change the world so that justice is done and peace is achieved in the way that God desires.
It is central to the Christian faith that God desires a world in which justice is done. However, the past hundred years have revealed the scale of injustice in the world to be greater than anyone had previously imagined. Global forces that are deeply unfair determine the destiny of the world’s poorest people and cause damage to the planet’s environment. War and suffering follow.
Striving for justice and working for peace, particularly for the world’s poorest people, are at the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The good news that Jesus came to announce was that suffering and oppression could be brought to an end. Christians believe that their faith should lead them to be the people who help bring that about.
The challenge Christians face is to have a personal way of life that does not add to the world’s problems. This means adopting a simple lifestyle in which the world’s resources are not wasted, buying goods that have been fairly traded, and changing habits that damage the environment. In the richer parts of the world many of them support and give money to organisations that are seeking to improve the conditions of the world’s poorest people, to end conflicts, and to preserve the planet.
The word peace is used in the Bible in a very broad sense. It takes in the wellbeing and health of people, as well as the absence of violence. Christians pray for the end of conflict between nations and religions. But they are also called to promote harmony in their communities, families and anywhere that they can make a practical difference.
Many followers of Jesus say that seeking justice and working for peace gives their lives a great sense of fulfilment. They know that their ways are becoming more like God’s ways. And they know that they are making the experience of being alive better for all the people God has lovingly placed on the earth.
What the Bible says about it
An extract from the Bible:
[God] has showed you, O people, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly, and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
Where to find it:
About these words:
Written seven centuries before Jesus by a Jewish prophet to guide people as to how to make the most of their faith in God.
And they said…
Dan Walker, BBC television presenter:
Christians do not need to go with the flow. We are meant to be counter cultural. We [attract people] by showing the difference God makes in our lives.
Jimmy Carter, former President of the US:
If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying that you want your country to be based on Christian values, because you don’t.
Clement of Alexandria, Christian leader, about 150-215:
We are an army – but without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without anger, without defilement. Christians do not train women like amazons, to be manly in war, since we wish even the men to be peaceable.
Edith Cavell, 1865-1915, nurse, executed for helping two hundred Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium in 2015:
Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.
Janet Morley, poet and theologian:
When we are all despairing,
when the world is full of grief,
when we see no way ahead
and hope has gone away –
O God, roll back the stone!