“The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:26)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges us to show love for our enemies: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer” (Matthew 5:38–39). Christ’s own deeds serve as the model for Christian peace work.
In practice, the commandment to love our enemy has been interpreted in a variety of ways by Christians and Western culture in general. The early church was pacifist and forbade all military action because it contradicted the teachings of Christ. Yet there have also been periods of war in the church’s history: neither the Crusades nor forced conversion reflect the values of the Sermon on the Mount.
Today, the Church’s peace work is done both at the grassroots and more general levels. Since 2000, interfaith dialogue has played an especially important role in peace work. In particular, 9/11 required churches and religious communities to find new ways to talk with each other.
Finn Church Aid is especially involved in supporting ongoing peace processes in various parts of Africa. Finnish volunteers have also served as observers with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), monitoring the human rights situation in the region and reporting violations. Churces have also issued numerous statements in support of human rights and peace.