Magazines 2023 Sep - Oct An evangelical approach to peace and reconciliation

An evangelical approach to peace and reconciliation

06 October 2023 By Johannes Reimer and Phil Wagler

As local and global conflicts increase, processes of peace and reconciliation are crucial for creating a better future for all people, the societies they create and inhabit, and the whole of creation. The Peace and Reconciliation Network, a commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, believes faith communities, and particularly evangelical churches, have enormous potential as transformative agents in a fragmented world.

As local and global conflicts increase, processes of peace and reconciliation are crucial for creating a better future for all people, the societies they create and inhabit, and the whole of creation. The Peace and Reconciliation Network, a commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, believes faith communities, and particularly evangelical churches, have enormous potential as transformative agents in a fragmented world.

We believe peace is God’s will and the essence of God’s Kingdom.

God created shalom where wholeness and harmony between God and His creation, humanity with one another and oneself, and humanity with the created world was a purposed reality. Humanity was uniquely created in the divine image to steward God’s shalom. This shalom, however, has been shrouded and broken by sin, which humanity chose. This bad news, however, is overcome in the Good News that through Jesus Christ God has reconciled the world to Himself and is forming a reconciling community, the Church, who are redeemed, called and sent to the world as a shalom-shaped, Kingdom-oriented, peace-building force in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peace, therefore, does not imply the absence of conflicts. The peace of God is a dynamic, positive process that directs us toward reconciliation and to embody it as a witness to a world in conflict. Peacebuilding implies a union of various gifts and peoples surrendered to Jesus Christ as Lord, and mutually submitted in a spirit of understanding and partnership with God, one another in the church, and with the world God so loves.

We are convinced that every person, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, language and sex has the inherent right to life within God’s shalom. As part of God’s ordained ordering of creation, therefore, ecclesiastical and social structures must take responsibility for promoting the concept of peace to and for all nations.

We believe reconciliation is central to God’s mission in a world ruined by sin.

The ministry of reconciliation, as an integral part of the gospel and God’s mission revealed within the Holy Scriptures, is aimed at justice. Reconciliation and the restoration of a just world for all requires God’s people becoming active participants and agents in compassion, forgiveness, courage, systemic integrity, and patient endurance.

We are convinced the Church, the Body of Christ, represents God wherever a society suffers from conflicts, injustice, divisions, and brokenness.

Reconciliation cannot be reduced to only the individual or as an instrument used by the strong to maintain the status quo. On the contrary, reconciliation is a journey towards the new creation shaped by a reconciled friendship with God and neighbour. Reconciliation is the actualizing of a holistic vision of life rooted in a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ, embodied in the Christ-centered community, and put into practice in the wholeness of what it means to be human as spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, intellectual, and social beings.

Social wholeness requires reconciliation. Where peace is merely the lack of hostility and violence there will always be divisive, cold conflicts that fracture society and the Church. Reconciliation, centered in Christ, leads to true peace, forming a culture shaped by the reign of God where people think and act in the spirit of God's love.

We are convinced the Church is called by God to be the agent of reconciliation in the world.

The Church carries and embodies the message of shalom, restoration and renewal (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Christians work with God and are commissioned as peacemakers and ambassadors of reconciliation.

Christian communities, temples of the Holy Spirit, engage this ministry of reconciliation and peace. In this fractured world, where hidden and visible conflict and injustice occurs, the church must realize its purpose and cannot remain indifferent. The Church must hear the world’s pain and the voice of God to understand what is broken and participate in God’s mission of reconciliation.

The Church, ultimately, is sent as Jesus was sent and is His ambassador of reconciliation. Jesus sets the methodology of mission and peacebuilding and is the measure of the Church’s activity.

What, then, is Jesus’ way of mission?

Jesus joined people. The Word became flesh. Incarnation initiates reconciliation.

Jesus earned trust. He cared for outcasts and the oppressed. Trust was built through loving relationships and service.

Jesus talked about life. His serving produced fellowship. Reconciliation presupposes relationship and authentic, honest conversation.

Jesus confronted sinful living. Jesus’s life of truth revealed the brokenness in which people lived. Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation revealed sin to bring freedom and peace.

Jesus made people whole. Jesus forgave, healed and freed from sin’s bondage returning peace and shalom.

Jesus called people to follow him. Jesus reconciled people with purpose. Reconciliation leads to discipleship and mission.

Sent as Jesus was sent, the Church lives the ministry of reconciliation through:

  • Testimony. The living of and witness to Jesus and his culture of peace in their local context. The Church works at making justice a reality that is seen as believers love one another and even enemies.
  • Diaconia. The works of charity, ministry to the needy, healing the sick and freeing the oppressed.
  • Koinonia. Participating in fellowship, conversation, partnership and mutual support.
  • Evangelism. Sharing the Good News of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension and the call to turn and follow Jesus as Lord.
  • Prophecy: Proclaiming the truths of God and His righteousness, being with and defending the oppressed and poor, exposing oppressors and what is unjust in cultures and systems, while partnering with public institutions.

The Church carries the ministry of reconciliation in their context through:

  • Involvement. Being with the world to love, know, and listen to the people we are among.
  • Context Analysis. Learning culture, language and life to discover where there is brokenness, problems, and possibilities.
  • Theological Reflection. Applying biblical revelation and the history of the Church to what we discover.
  • Spirituality. Prayerful intercession and listening to the Holy Spirit for how to respond in Jesus’s way.
  • Planning for Action. Acting in community as ministers of reconciliation with the people we are among. This action employs the gifts of the Body of Christ and the various spheres of social life and influence that God has sovereignly placed His people in for His missional purposes.
  • Celebration. Joyful and grateful expression of having participated in God’s work of shalom.

Peace and Reconciliation Network logoJohannes Reimer of Germany is the director of public engagement at the World Evangelical Alliance. Phil Wagler of Canada is global director of the WEA Peace & Reconciliation Network. This article is republished with permission from Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash.

The PRN can do its work through the generosity of donors like you. Connect with the PRN or donate. Invite Canadian director Joel Zantingh or global director Phil Wagler as a speaker. Read more of these blog posts at

Biblical foundations for this article: Genesis 1:1-28; Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Psalm 24; Isaiah 1:10-20; Isaiah 2:1-5; Isaiah 58:6-12; Isaiah 61; Isaiah 65:17-25; Jonah 4:10-11; Micah 4:1-5; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 5:1-20; Matthew 5:43-6:15; Matthew 11:25-30; Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 1:46-55; Luke 2:8-14; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 19:1-10; John 1:1-18; John 4:1-38; John 13:1-35; John 15:18-16:15; John 20:19-23; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:24-47; Acts 10; Acts 17:22-31; Acts 26:1-23; Romans 5:1-11; Romans 12; 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:10; Galatians 3:23-29; Ephesians 3:7-10; Ephesians 4:4-16; Philippians 2:1-11; Colossians 1:15-29; Colossians 3:1-17; Hebrews 13:1-16; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 2:4-12; Revelation 7:9-12; Revelation 19:6-8; Revelation 21:1-8; Revelation 21:22-22:5

References for this article: Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, Approved by General Assembly resolution 39/11 of 12 November 1984. Johannes Reimer, Peace Building: The Mission of the Church, Biblios Media, 2019. Declaration on the Right to Peace: resolution 71/189 adopted by the General Assembly. LOP 5: Reconciliation as the Mission of God, Lausanne Movement. Recovering Reconciliation as the Mission of God: Ten Theses