My understanding of Peace has come from a statement made by Brian McLaren that revolutionised my life.
“The Church has an eschatology (end times teaching) of abandonment and not of engagement.” – B. McLaren
This is a crucial truth that influences Churches and religions, but has also had major impacts across the globe. When we look at 9/11, we can see the fibre of this teaching in action. When we look at responses of terrorism attacks, we can see again this same teaching that is worked through religion into the societies of our world. This teaching is toxic for the well-being and sacredness of humanity. Jesus said Himself in John 3:16 “for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son”. God loves the world that we are living in and we need to see that His kingdom is not just eternal.
The theology around the teaching of abandonment in Islam and Christianity is that when you die and leave this life, if you have been faithful, you will be rewarded. The focus then becomes the reward in the afterlife and moves away from logic and the well-being of humanity in the life we now enjoy.
As a result of terrorism, the western world reacts in a way in which it fights violence with violence, killing innocent people, who have had no part to play in the wrong doing, in the name of justice. Some teachings of eschatology in Christian theology suggest that the Church is going to be taken up before the great day of judgement. This comes from a literal view of the book of Revelation, written by the apostle John on the Island of Patmos. The book of revelation is seen as an “apocalyptic” literature. Apocalyptic means that this writing was completed when the Church was under great persecution. As a result of the persecution, John writes in symbolism and codes. The apostle John hides the message so that it will not be understood if it gets into the wrong hands.
So based on the literal understanding of the book of Revelation, we believe that the last days are in the future and at the end of time, but if we have a symbolic view we are more inclined to see the events in Revelation as already taken place. As a result of the literalistic view, people are inclined to take a fatalistic approach to the world and have the view that regardless of what we do, we will still have the same outcome. I believe this is the lie that drives a lot of religions, instead of inspiring us to make a difference.
We have become complacent in social justice, and the principle that drives the church with this theology is to propagate the gospel. We win when others are converted to our faith and we all get rewarded when we leave this life. Peace should aim to move away from this fatalistic and debatable understanding, and move into the area of helping people and making this world a better place. Our understanding is that the kingdom of God is in this life, and God wants us to improve our current situation, instead of thinking that our life will change when we die.
God challenged me on this principle and, as a result, we are now helping a lot more overseas with social needs instead of propagating the gospel to win people over to what we believe. Our goals are:
1. To engage in the world problems by giving a solution.
2. To see our world as a better place.
3. World peace and the dignity of every human being living in harmony.
David & Jane Mills also had a big impact on my life. David recently passed away and at his funeral I saw Muslims and Christians getting along like brothers. David was a visionary for change in our world and worked for the “Initiative of Change”. The Initiative of Change “builds bridges of trust through a change in people – their attitudes, motives and actions – in families, the workplace, between people of different backgrounds”. David’s goal was to create peace and challenge wrong mindsets that hinder people from getting along. David provided many avenues for this in Australia and around the world and created a legacy of peace that still lives in the hearts and lives of those who were impacted by his dream.