CBF Christmas Message, 2017





    Christmas 2017 has found us a rather bewildered human race. There seems to be neither peace within nor peace without. The peace heralded by the angelic host on the occasion of the birth of Jesus was a prefiguring of the peace attained through the death of Christ on the cross. The peace to which Jesus bore witness in his life and ministry can be best described as just peace.

    The biblical teaching of the relationship between peace and justice eventually led to the development of the concept of Just Peace around 1941 by the “Commission on a Just and Durable Peace” established by the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in the USA in anticipation of an international order of peace post Second World War. Just Peace is defined as “The interrelation of friendship, justice and common security from violence.” (WCC Just Peace Companion 2011, p. 15). The assumption of Just Peace is that there can be no peace without justice. Justice and peace are an inseparable companion in the Bible (Isaiah 32: 17; James 3: 18). Both biblical references “point to right and sustainable relationships in human society, the vitality of our connections with the earth, the “well-being” and integrity of creation” (WCC Just Peace Companion 2011, p.2).

    As it was in the lifetime of Jesus Christ, Just Peace is God’s gift to a broken world: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27). Peace is received as both “promise” and “present” through the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, peace should not be pursued at the expense of justice or justice at the expense of peace. To conceive peace apart from justice is to compromise the hope that “justice and peace shall embrace”( Ps. 85:10). 

    Just Peace is therefore, lacking where injustice, poverty, disease, armed conflict, violence and war, among others inflict physical or psychological pain on human beings. In pursuing Just Peace, attempts must be made to “prevent and eliminate personal, structural and media violence, including violence against people because of race, caste, gender, sexual orientation, culture or religion.” (WCC Just Peace Companion, 2011, p.4). Nonviolent resistance is central to the concept of Just Peace. By nonviolent resistance, I mean an active resistant approach that unmasks and resists evil as well as a commitment to truth. This approach gives visibility to Jesus’ teaching of reconciliation, non-retaliation, and love in the Sermon on the Mount recorded by Matthew. 

    Evidently, the goal of Just Peace is the transformation of conflict. Transforming conflicts is an essential part of peacemaking. “The process of transformation begins with unmasking violence and uncovering hidden conflict in order to make their consequences visible to victims and communities.” (WCC Just Peace Companion, 2011, p.6). The purpose of conflict transformation is to challenge violent producers and redirect their interest to the common good. This may require disturbing artificial peace, exposing structural violence restoring relationships without retribution. 

    The care of the environment is another central theme in the concept of Just Peace. “God made all things good and has entrusted humankind with the responsibility to care for creation (Gen. 2:4b-9). The exploitation of the natural world and the misuse of its finite resources disclose a pattern of violence that often benefits some people at the expense of many,” (WCC Just Peace Companion, 2011, p. 8). The creation groans to be liberated from the abusive actions of humanity (Romans 8:22). “The vision of just peace is much more than the restoration of right relations in the community; it also compels human beings to care for the earth as our home. We must trust in God’s promise and strive for an equitable and just sharing of the earth’s resources,” (WCC Just Peace Companion, 2011, p. 8)

    The concept of Just Peace, therefore, holds in tension peace and justice as articulated in the teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom as both present reality and eschatological expectation. Undeniably, Just Peace unveils anything that violates the dignity of humanity made in the image of God and the created order. Its goal is transformation through peacemaking and the care of the environment. Those who are involved in the peace process should at all times preserve the dignity of humanity.  May just peace guide our action, speech and behaviour during this Christmas season!



    Rev. Everton Jackson 


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