Power. Everyone wants it. In the Philippines, the more power one has, the more wealth one amasses. Among many Christian churches, power is often identified with ‘ministry success’ — defined by the number of people attending the church services and programs who, in turn, give money to the church. It’s akin to clientle and sales.
In a story in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, the apostles asked Jesus, now that he had resurrected from the dead, if He would restore the kingdom — meaning the past political glory of Israel under David and Solomon — which was characterized by wealth and power.
Jesus answered them and addressed this issue of power briefly: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The power of the Holy Spirit causes a person to be a ‘witness’ for Christ. This understanding of ‘witness’ is derived from a New Testament term, ‘martyría’—that is, a follower of Jesus is a martyr-witness. Being a martyr-witness marks the true followers of Jesus in the past 2000+ years. This is the kind of discipleship we need in our beautiful, but conflicted, land!
What does this mean to us as PeaceBuilders Community and as peace and reconciliation advocates?
This is not about having a messianic- or martyr-complex. This is not about mere adventurism in a place of danger. This is not a search for an extreme religious experience.
Being martyr-witnesses, first of all, means that we will love all people unconditionally and we will practice selfless love to the point of offering our lives to the people with whom we are called to live and to serve. This is exemplified in the humble life of Jesus of Nazareth whom we follow in response to His sacrificial love.
Secondly, it means that, by God’s grace, we will not lie. As witnesses to the truth we have experienced in Jesus Christ, we will initiate transparent and honest interaction with all the people concerned as we relate with them and as we formulate and implement our personal and organizational policies.
Thirdly, being martyr-witnesses affirm that Justice is an attribute of God. Therefore, our tasks will be implemented in accordance with what is just and equitable among all people concerned. Authentic justice is the only path to genuine peace.
Fourthly, it means practicing genuine forgiveness. Using the energies available to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will absorb the violence committed against us so that our lives may be used as servants to stop the cycle of violence within us and around us. We will offer our lives moment-by-moment in the altar of God’s truth, mercy, justice, and peace.
Finally, it means incarnating God’s peace in our lives. We will seek harmony and reconciliation with the Creator, with our Being, with Others, and with the Creation. We believe in solving problems through non-violence. By God’s grace and mercy, we will not use weapons to hurt or to kill people as a means to accomplish our dreams, mission, and objectives.
May the power of the Holy Spirit energize our respective lives, our families and loved-ones, our works of service, and our aspirations.