Chapter 24 » 24.34

Practical expressions of our peace testimony

Reconciliation and mediation

The following extracts are taken from an address in 1958 entitled ‘Christians in a divided world’ by Margarethe Lachmund, a German Friend who had intimate knowledge of conditions in both East and West Germany. In discussing the problem of Communism for Christians, she could truly state ‘I therefore do not speak on this subject theoretically, but from insight gained through personal experience and personal contact with people and conditions on both sides’:

Is Christianity capable of contributing to the overcoming of tensions and showing a way to their solution? I am convinced that we can find a clear, positive answer by investigating how Christ himself met the tensions of his time; for him tensions which separate people simply do not exist. Jesus knows no fear, nothing holds him apart from other people. His fearlessness, however, flows from his communion with God. But this communion with God can be achieved by all men. Thus he sees in the other man only his brother, his neighbour. Next to the love of God, the commandment ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ is for Jesus the most essential of all commandments.

Such a concept does not mean that opposite views are abolished… On the contrary, they [remain distinct and] must not be veiled – that would be untruthful. The courage for clarity and the strength to stand up for truth are repeatedly demanded of us. However, the secret lies in the way in which truth is spoken. If it is spoken with contempt, bitterness or hatred, it results in bitterness; if, however, truth is spoken in love, the door to the other’s heart can slowly open so that the truth can perhaps have some effect…

We can help to ease the tensions and live within them in the right way if we fulfil simultaneously Christ’s two commandments – the commandment to love and the commandment to speak truth. A synthesis of these two must be found. Out of fear, we may betray truth; out of bitterness or self-righteousness we may betray love. A desire for peace without truthfulness is worthless and does not bring about peace; without love truth has no effect because it is not heard.

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