Recent global events remind us yet again that our world continues to be divided by many political, ethnic, racial, and cultural issues.
Horrific violence in places such as the Middle East, Belgium, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Louisiana, Minnesota, Florida, and Texas, USA, cast images of hatred that illustrate these divisions and lead to alienation, strife, and brokenness.
Our call to stand against hatred and for peace has not changed since we first issued the following statement in 2014:
The prophet Isaiah had a vision of God's people traveling through a very difficult wilderness. Their road went through a desert with valleys, hills, curves, and rough spots. Isaiah 40:1 states, "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God." The prophet goes on to promise the coming of a Messiah who will care for us. He uses this powerful imagery: "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart" (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).
The Father sent His Son to live among us and be Immanuel, "God with us." He came to provide the way for our salvation and reconciliation to God and fellow human beings. This gospel message is for all people and makes us one at the foot of the Cross. "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28, NIV). This declaration calls all followers of Christ to come together in love.
We are ambassadors of this gospel (2 Corinthians 5:20). In our world, we best reflect the example of Christ and the ones who live out the vision of Isaiah 40:1–11 when we:
- Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
- Mourn with those who mourn.
- Comfort people wherever we find them.
- Feel the pain of those who are hurting.
- Seek to alleviate that pain whenever possible.
- Be slow to speak and quick to listen to the positions of others.
- Seek to understand the situations of others.
- Show dignity and respect to everyone.
- Break down walls that separate.
- Build bridges that connect.
- Follow in the footsteps of the Prince of Peace.
- Extend grace and mercy to others as God has extended it to us.
- Pray for wisdom and direction to better reflect the example of Christ to others.
It is our hopeful prayer that wherever there are Nazarenes, they will stand for peace, healing, and reconciliation.
Father, thank you for sending your Son into our divided world. Grant us the power of your Holy Spirit to be agents of support, comfort, peace, and healing. In Jesus' strong name we pray. Amen.
--Board of General Superintendents