Justice and peace
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. This has led to a planet on which, every eight seconds, a child in the developing world dies from diarrhoea because his or her community has dirty water. When seen through God’s eyes, this and many similar issues are an outrage.
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 he 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.
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Where do you long to see peace?
It could be peace in the world, in relationships or in your life.
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Read 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...
Eight million people die every year for the price of going out with your friends to the movies and buying an ice cream. Literally for about thirty dollars a head per year, you could save eight million lives. Isn't that extraordinary? Preventable disease - not calamity, not famine, nothing like that. Preventable disease - just for the lack of medicines. That is cheap. That is a bargain.
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.
Ambrose Bierce, North American writer, 1842-1913 (from The Devil's Dictionary):
War: God's way of teaching Americans geography.
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!