|A Teremtő az emberiség közös Istene / Everybody can listen to God the Creator.|
Everybody can listen to God the Creator.
(Sermon for the Church and Peace conference in Osijek, 4th May 2003)
Text: So let us adopt any custom that leads to peace and our mutual improvement (Romans 14:19)
With regard to peacemaking, Church and Peace has played an important role in several cases from the middle of the 20th century:
- in the reconciliation between Germany and France after two world wars (in the seventies, when I still had my passport, I spent a month hitchhiking in Western Europe, I visited Taize, where German-French reconciliation was still the main issue),
- during the Cold War,
- when the Cold War came to an end, in reconciling the divided Europe,
- in the nineties in the Balkans,
- recently, for instance, in the Near East and Iraq.
Which duties are awaiting us in the twenty-first century?
I. Peacemaking is working along gaps, fractures and divided sides. These gaps and fractures are not causing the conflicts, they are just the main venues where conflicts take place.
When we look at the globe and look for volcanos, we find the edges of the solid plates of the globe: the fractures between these solid plates. These are the places where the globe’s inner fluid material comes easiest to the surface.
When we look at main areas of conflicts all over the globe, we will find the main fractures of different civilizations. These are the places, where it is the most likely that conflicts will emerge.
I want to emphasize these are not religions. These are fractures of civilizations, even if they seem to be along different religious breaklines.
1. Within Europe, there are such fractures between different minorities; languages; religions; refugees; immigrants; between poor and wealthy; homeless and palaces. At some places there is still a gap between Protestants and Catholics (like in Northern Ireland). The recent enlargement of the European Union can cause mutual understanding and can close some gaps, but it is also creating new ones.
2. There are bigger fractures and gaps at the edges of Europe:
- Between Orthodox and Western Christianity: the Baltic states, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, the Balkans.
- Between Orthodox and Moslems: Caucasus (Armenia and Chechnya) Greek and Turkish (Cyprus), the Balkans.
- Between Moslems and Western civilisation: the Near East, the Balkans.
In the Balkans, East, West and South come together. This is an area where there is a multiple chance that conflicts emerge.
3. All over the world, “continental plates” meet and there are fractures between them, because by now our globe seems small: technology and the rapid growth of population have made this change. China, India make one-sixth of humankind per country. Moslims all over are also about one-sixth, and so is the Northern Atlantic civilization. Europe takes part in a worldwide dialogue between civilizations (which is an interreligious dialogue as well). There is a need for interreligious dialogue within Europe, too.
But these fractures of civilizations are not reasons for conflicts. These are only the most sensitive places where it is easiest for conflicts to emerge.
What are the deeper reasons/causes of conflicts then?
II. We overburden our living space, and this has become a global process.
The burden our lives mean to the natural environment is measurable. We call it the ecological footprint. We can measure a person’s, a community’s, a country’s, or the whole humankind’s ecological footprint.
The factors that influence a group’s ecological footprint are the following:
- population (number of persons in the group)
- the amount of material these persons produce, consume and pollute
- the technology they use for all these (ecological effectivity).
Apart from several small harmonious civilisation, the human race always tended to overburden its living space, therefore it has degraded the environment and fought for meager natural resources all throughout history. But in the second half of the twentieth century, the human population reached an incredible amount and technology also developed rapidly. Therefore during this last short half century humankind grew more in number and produced, consumed and polluted more, than in its whole history until 1950. Around 1970, humankind’s ecological footprint exceeded the Earth’s capacity to provide for us. This is why, after wars for gold, and later, for oil, there will be wars for water and soil. These will be the most precious resources in the coming times.
In 1994, there was a social collapse in Rwanda. Rwanda at that time was an almost wholly Christian country with 7 million people. In this collapse, almost one million of them died within four months. The reasons were hardly on the news. The world did not learn the lesson of this tragedy. Its main reason was that Rwanda’s population grew three-fold from 1950 within four decades. Therefore in 1990 they had only 300 square meters of fertile soil to support one person. This is only one-fourth of the world average of fertile soil per person.
III. God our Creator
Different religions worship gods of different manifestations, traditions and philosophies. But there is one common God for humankind: the Creator. Even non-believers can recognize him, as Paul writes in Romans 1:20:
“What can be known about God is perfectly plain to them, since God himself has made it plain. Ever since God created the world, his everlasting power and deity – however invisible – have been there for the mind to see in the things He has made.
Thus God the Creator is the one to whom everyone – every nation, religion and tradition – can listen. For example both Aristotle and Confucius recognized that if humans overburden the area they live on, that leads to ecological degradation, social collapse and war.
God the Creator is the one who teaches us the nature of the Earth and biosphere, plants, animals and humankind, the nature of tribes, nations, societies and civilizations – because He created all this.
From Him we can learn to live in harmony with the Earth and its capacity and limits to provide for us, with all living creatures and with each other. We can learn how to use natural resources wisely, so that we don’t need to fight for existence.
He can teach us the deep causes of conflicts, which lie in the rules of biosphere, and in way humans are part of this biosphere.
From the Creator we can learn that His blessing at the beginning of human history “Grow in number and rule over the Earth” fulfilled. It is not a command! It must not mean that we brutally supersede weaker creatures. We must handle them as co-creatures, as they are also created by the same God.
From the Creator we can learn to be responsible parents. Our task is not to grow in number without limits, as our biological nature would require. Our task is to live our sexuality with love and care for our partner and for the future generations, so that only loved and wanted children be conceived and there would not be abortions and unwanted children anymore.
The Creator teaches us to be ecologists, so that we can be good managers of our “oikos”, our living place, and we can use only what we really need and we don’t upset natural cycles.
God the Creator teaches us, that our biological life ends in death, therefore it is not worth fighting for living space, money or power.
God, who created an unbelievable space with billions of galaxies and planets, suggests to us: life is much more than our short journey on earth. Even non-believers can recognize that there is life that does not cease to exist.
The New Testament uses the word “dzoe” for this eternal life, while it says “bios” for biological life. Jesus says if we want to keep our bios, we will lose our dzoe. He teaches we must not worry over food, clothing and other things of bios, but we should become rich in eternal values: in God, in spiritual values, in loving relationships, intellectual treasures, and experiences of nature, silence, games, joy and sorrow.
If we, as a European peace network, want to meet the challenges of conflicts in the 21st century, God the Creator must be our source.
If we want Christian churches to become peace churches, we should draw their attention to God the Creator.
If we want peace between civilizations influenced by the different world religions, we should draw their attention to God the Creator.
As we look at wars, inhuman deeds, ecological degradation, all-too-big global processes, and if we look at our own weaknesses and failures, sins, and we still want peace in our own soul, God the Creator must be our source.
As the Creator of all, He has been present for billions of years guarding over his creation. His almighty work cannot be destroyed. Therefore He is calm, but at the same time, He suffers, struggles and hopes together with us, because He created us personally and He knows us all too well and loves us still.
Therefore He teaches us wisdom and gives us strength to do good deeds globally and also to develop our personality.
Historical period: 21st century
Groups, movements whom it is about: Church & Peace
Date of creation or issue: 2003. 05. 04.
Author: Simonyi, Gyula
Translator: Simonyi, Katalin
Target audience: religious people
Possible usage (method, occasion): meditation