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Deepening Interfaith Peace in 2018

January 1 is designated World Peace Day by the Catholic church - a fitting day to reflect on the state of world peace, and ways that faith can guide us towards more a peaceful coexistence. It is also timely to reflect on how we can integrate peace more deeply into our souls and lives on New Year’s Day, a day traditionally devoted to personal reflection, renewal and resolutions. But peace in the modern world is not easy, intuitive, or inevitable. There are ways in which it appears to be ever more fragile, and challenging to build. Therefore, Liguorian magazine has commissioned a series of articles to explore how the Christian faith inspires and informs peace throughout 2018, starting with interfaith peace in January. To read the full article requires a subscription to Liguorian magazine, but I'll share some practical suggestions below. I've also collated numerous resources to help you learn about other faiths, join existing interfaith networks and initiatives, or facilitate new discussion groups if there are none in your area.

 

Peace in the modern world is not easy, intuitive, or inevitable we have to build it.


Jews and Christians are inspired, instructed, and motivated by the Bible to build peace. King David proclaimed, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15). Paul exhorted, “If possible, on your part, live at peace with all” (Romans 12:16b-18), and showed us how in the rest of the chapter. Furthermore, it was God’s eternal intention that through Abraham, the father of the Arabs and the Jews, that all nations of the earth would be blessed. Part of that blessing was demonstrating God’s kingdom on earth through radical social justice laws which limited capitalism, welcomed foreigners and gave them equal rights with native-born Israelites, remembering that they were former slaves and refugees from Egypt (“you shall love the alien as yourself,” Leviticus 19:34). This openness is not demonstrated in current US politics, but it is upheld by the founding faith of the country. Pray and advocate for a return to its values of equality and respect for all people.

 

Part of God's blessing through Abraham was demonstrating God’s kingdom on earth through radical social justice laws which limited capitalism, welcomed foreigners and gave them equal rights with native-born Israelites, remembering that they were former slaves and refugees from Egypt (“you shall love the alien as yourself,” Leviticus 19:34, the Bible).


What are some of the practical ways we can strengthen interfaith peace?

  • First, let us love each other. Love is more important than knowledge, for knowledge will pass, but love is eternal (1 Corinthians 13:3-13).
  • Let us learn about each other with humility and curiousity, recognising that there are differences of opinion in every religion, including Christianity.
  • Let us recognise that God is vastly beyond human understanding. “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then [in heaven] face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12a).
  • Let us acknowledge our shared values and desires, such as devotion to God, love for others, and peace.
  • Let us avoid arguing about the external details of religious practice and accommodate each other’s dietary differences (Romans 14:14, 17-20). One way that Christians can practice this today is supporting halal and kosher diets in school cafeterias (halal meat is killed the same way as kosher meat, with the prayer “in the name of God”).


As you reflect on the new year, why not choose one interfaith growth area or activity to do each month? It could be visiting another faith's worship service, having a conversation about a friend's faith, reading a book, watching a movie, or joining a discussion group. Browse CryPeace's collation of Interfaith resources for more ideas. Two interfaith highlights for me this year are sharing in a Sikh Langar daily meal for everyone, and attending the 7th Parliament of the World's Religions in Toronto in November.

Understanding each other better is a significant step on the road to peace.

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