I am indeed challenged and encouraged because of the appeal of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church. It includes important assertions for the global church.
1. It points out that the life of every person is priceless. It is a gift from God. Therefore the church must call for the cessation of fratricidal wars.
2. It points out the great damage that wars create. It destroys human relationships, respect, and mutual love. Therefore the church should warn the war-makers and remind them of God’s justice.
3. It calls for allowing the God-given freedom for every nation and not imposing the law of the Jungle in which the powerful deprives others from freedom of choice or imposes choices at gunpoint.
4. It reminds us of forgiveness and its indispensability for the journey of reconciliation. It is not a traitorous or weak forgiveness but one that is rooted in repentance and in recognizing God’s judgment as well as the error of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
5. It calls for peacemaking and reminds us that this is God’s plan for us. Peacemaking means ending war-making and creating a new atmosphere in which we exercise non-violence and dialogue.
I am indeed encouraged by this appeal and believe that the followers of Jesus in both Palestine and Israel can learn a lot from it. Some of the lessons might be:
(1) we must resist the temptation of becoming a tool in the hands of politicians. The Palestinian authority seeks to use the church for its political purposes and the Israeli government is doing the same thing. But the church must have its own voice and represent God not the state.
(2)The followers of Jesus should have the courage to challenge the state when the latter seek war, enmity, anger, lack of forgiveness, and fratricide.
(3) The followers of Jesus in both Israel and Palestine should be peacemakers who encourage forgiveness, mercy, justice, love, and reconciliation.
Last, I thank the Russian Orthodox Priests who wrote the appeal. I also pray that the followers of Jesus in Israel and Palestine will be able to see that the church should always favor kingdom ethics before state ethics. Our first and highest loyalty is to Jesus Christ and to His Kingdom. Therefore we serve as good citizens who are messengers of a civilization of love, of justice, of mercy, and reconciliation with both God and humanity.
The appeal of the the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church can be found here:https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1yOGuXjdFQ1A3BQaEEQr744cwDzmSQ1qePaaBi4z6q3w/viewform?edit_requested=true