Our pastoral team stands by the public statements of our world church and its regional institutions in their continual call for peace and justice:
We feel the pain of those mourning and suffer with all victims of racial and social injustice.
We constantly call for justice and mercy, equality and fraternity for all human beings.
We will continue to call and encourage our believers in Christ and also the world’s population, to consider the way of Jesus Christ when responding to violence, or any form of discrimination.
We do not dictate to anyone the individual decisions or responses they are to take on any given situation.
We make the call that all protests be peaceful and that there be dialogue and just social reforms.
Cultural expectations may alter behavior; however, Christ’s example shows the best way forward for these times. Even though, some people may become more evil because “inquity or lawlessness abounds and the love of many becomes cold,” there are those who become better at doing good and we all can become better and help others to be better, (Matthew 24:12).
We call upon all to consider the teachings of Jesus, which we believe will be successful not just by inspiring social reforms but by making fundamental changes of characters and human mind set, so that people may treat each other better and with respect.
The following are some examples that Christ used to shed light on His message of human interpersonal relationships which had been dimmed by laws shaped by cultural mind sets:
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment,’ (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17) 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment, (Mt 5:21–22, NKJV).
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ (Ex. 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut. 19:21). 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person…, (Mt 5:38–39).
Jesus is teaching here that the Christian should not seek revenge for wrongs suffered by meeting violence with violence, but should rather “overcome evil with good,” (Rom 12:21), or as the expression states that by the good one does, one heaps “coals of fire” upon the head of one who wrongs the Christian or anyone else, (Proverbs 25:21, 22). It is this “coals of fire” upon the heads of the guilty that will give rise to shame, repentance and thereby the acceptance for reforms of justice.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ (Lev. 19:18). 44 But I say to you, love your enemies…, (Mt 5:43–45).
Even though the phrase “hate your enemy” is not in Lev. 19:18, Jesus rightly interpreted the law because it is implied by the practice of the people by the way they culturally interpreted the law and thereby treated other peoples and cultures differently. While the goal of these laws was to bring about peace and to oppose violence, the culture dictated that peace was acquired through necessary violence. But Jesus says “love your enemies” because God does so (Mt 5:45-48), and because we are children of God, (1 John 3:1, 2).
So, the teaching of Jesus is that the Old Testament law is to be taken further as He explains how to treat one’s enemy just as they would their own flesh and blood. Jesus’ teaching broke through the culture to shed light on the correct way of treating each other, “just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise,” (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). If as disciples of Christ we cannot do this, then how will the world be better.
Jesus said to His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Jesus’ love for us is perfect, unchanging, and self-sacrificial. Our capacity to love others the way Jesus commands comes only from our experience of His love and from the power of the Holy Spirit.
One practical way to love others better is to imagine ourselves in their shoes. When we pause to think how we might like to be treated in a certain situation, we build empathy for those actually living in that situation. Do we like to be treated with love and respect? Then we should give that gift to others.