In our January issue of the Moravian Magazine, we introduced a new regular feature, “Studying Moravian Doctrine.” Following the outline established by Jesus Still Lead On, An Introduction to Moravian Belief, we will cover different aspects of two central documents outlining Moravian doctrine and belief each month. In 2015, we are working through the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living (MCCL); in 2016, we’ll cover the Ground of the Unity.
This month will cover the parts of the MCCL dealing with Peace, Our Witness in the World.
Thanks to Dr. Craig Atwood and the editors of Jesus Still Lead On (produced in 2005) for this material. If you are interested in obtaining the entirety of Jesus Still Lead On, please contact the IBOC or visit store.moravian.org.
The full text of the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living and the Ground of the Unity are available as a free download from www.moravian.org. Printed copies are available from the IBOC.
For the sake of the peace which we have with God, we earnestly desire to live peaceably with all people and to seek the peace of the places where we dwell.
The Moravian Church has an ancient and respected commitment to peace. At times this has meant that the church required pacifism, but today we leave the question of military service up to the conscience of each individual. Even for members of the military, however, we encourage them not to embrace a culture of violence and oppression but at all times to seek to mitigate suffering even in the midst of armed conflict. The Moravian commitment to peace goes beyond military issues, though. It is one of our core convictions. We believe and teach that God intends for all people to live in peace and avoid harming other people. Though conflicts are inevitable and are sometimes required by our Christian witness, our goal is always one of reconciliation and the promotion of a higher justice. We have traditionally taught that we should not stir up trouble with our neighbors and that we should pray for the peace of the lands in which we minister.
- Do you think that the world values peace or does it encourage conflict and destruction? Why do you think that?
- What are the advantages of a peaceful way of life? How is this consistent with the Gospel’s teaching?
- Can there be peace without justice?
- Are there times when Moravians must create conflict with our neighbors?
- How can your congregation be a peacemaker in the world? How can you?
- How should we teach this Christian commitment to children as part of their moral and spiritual development?
Our Witness in the World
We will not hate, despise, slander, or otherwise injure anyone. We will ever strive to manifest love towards all people, to treat them in a kind and friendly manner, and in our dealings with them to approve ourselves upright, honest, and conscientious, as becomes children of God. Together with the universal Christian Church, we have a concern for this world, opening our heart and hand to our neighbors with the message of the love of God, and being ever ready to minister of our substance to their necessities (Matthew 25:40).
In many ways this paragraph is a summary of the entire Covenant for Christian Living. Here we see the Moravian understanding that doctrine is meaningless without practical application in our lives. We also see the Moravian understanding that our ethics flow from the inner disposition of our hearts. Because we have been redeemed and brought into a loving relationship with the Father through our Lord and Savior, we are able to give others the same grace we have received. We understand that the entire biblical law is summed up in the commandment to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This applies to our way of doing business, pursuing our careers, living in our communities, and spreading the Gospel.
- Why is it wrong for Christians to “hate, despise, slander or injure” anyone?
- Should we make a distinction between our behavior toward righteous people and sinners? Why or why not?
- If all Moravians took this paragraph seriously, how would it affect our preaching, teaching, fellowship, and actions in the world?
- Why should children of God be “upright, honest, and conscientious”?
- What does this mean in practical terms?
- Is it legitimate to use deception to further the cause of Christ?
- How do you show concern for the world as a follower of Jesus Christ?
Next month: Witnessing to our Faith and Temperance
From the October 2015 Moravian Magazine