Peacebuilding as a part of God’s mission

Integral mission and theologyPeacebuilding
Photo: James L.W/Unsplash
Photo: James L.W/Unsplash

All of Tearfund’s work is rooted in our Theology of Mission, in which we find our understanding of our call, as Christians to follow Jesus and participate in God’s mission to redeem and restore his creation 1. Tearfund believes that the mission of God is essentially about seeking restored relationships – and this means bringing peace... between God and humans, humans and each other, and humans and the wider creation.

Our commitment to peacebuilding as an organisation is rooted in an understanding that conflict is a major cause of poverty in the world today and in the belief that peacebuilding is a Christ-centric activity that bears witness to our faith and to the nature of the kingdom of God. 

In the Bible we read the story of God’s involvement in his creation from its origin to the final revelation. Here we learn that creation was good, but that humanity was tempted and sinned, breaking the relationships between God, humanity and creation. 

In Genesis 4 we get the Bible’s first violent conflict: the murder of Abel by Cain. However, the Bible goes on to tell us about the ways that God seeks to restore relationships with all of his creation: through the calling of Abraham; the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the establishment and commissioning of the church, and the promise of Christ’s return and the full revelation of the kingdom of God. This story gives Christians the hope of building a peaceful future in our world. Also, as we are instructed to follow Jesus, make disciples and seek the kingdom, it gives us our call to be peacebuilders in our world. 

As Christians, we are a part of the Bible story: living between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, and his final revelation – what some theologians call the ‘now and not yet’. So it’s important that we learn how to live in this story and how to learn from the Bible and use the Bible as we seek peace in our communities and in the world. One way of doing this can be to ask the question: ‘How do I live faithfully as a disciple of Jesus in this situation?’ In this short video, Rev. René August, a priest from South Africa, explains how she thinks about this question. 

Of course, pursuing peace is hard and true. Sustained peace will only come after the kingdom of God is fully revealed. As we look at some different aspects of peacebuilding in future posts it will become very clear just how hard it is for flawed human beings to pursue and build and live in peace. But as Christians we believe and have the certain hope that it will come and that we can begin to see it realised in the here and now. 

In the next post we’ll explore something of how we can begin to do that, by looking at how our journey as disciples forms us as peacebuilders. 

1 You can find out more about our theology of mission in our Short Guide to Mission 

Read Hannah’s introduction to the peacebuilding blog series here. 

Hannah Swithinbank
Hannah Swithinbank is Tearfund’s Theology & Network Engagement Manager.