“Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” Deuteronomy 16:18-20
Every year Christians across the world gather in prayer for growth in unity. We do this in a world where corruption, greed and injustice bring about inequality and division. Ours is a united prayer in fractured world: this is powerful. However, as individual Christians and communities, we are often complicit with injustice, and yet we are called together to form a united witness for justice and to be means of Christ’s healing grace for the brokenness of the world.
On Friday, June 7th 2019, Ecumenical Commission for Human Development organized special ecumenical celebration and prayer service in relation to Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Bishop Azariah Church, Diocese of Raiwind, Lahore to embraced the theme “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” Deuteronomy 16:18-20 to remind Jesus’ prayer for his disciples “that they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17:21). The people who participated in this ecumenical prayer services belonged to Church of Pakistan, Salvation Army Pakistan, Presbyterian Church of Pakistan and Roman Catholic Church.
In Pakistan, the common thread which binds the 207.774 million people together is perhaps its diversity – linguistic, ethnic and religions. Youth, the age between 18 – 30 years constitutes 63% of total population of the country. However in the recent years, people have witnessed an environment of growing intolerance, vigilantism and impunity against weaker groups, endorsed by the state and sanctioned by the society.
Children, young adults, women, trans-genders, religious minorities, human rights defenders and other excluded communities are considered the most neglected groups in the society facing discrimination, hatred and violence by state institutions in particular and non-state actors, extremist groups and society, in general.
Pakistan is facing an ever increasing level of multifaceted social, economic, political and security challenges. A wide array of problems is precipitating in Pakistani society, causing threat to peace and denial of justice. Armed conflicts and violence, increasing poverty, inadequate health care, economic exploitation, environmental degradation and exploitation of natural resources, militarization, arms build-up, nuclearization, spread of small arms and light weapons, domination and intervention of major powers from outside the region as well as within the region due to China Pakistan Economic Corridor plans, ethnic and religious conflicts, communal violence and political unrest; torture, custodial death, suppression of people’s legitimate right to self-determination; lack of rule of law and democratic governance are part of a series of issues affecting Pakistan’s peace and security.
Christian communities in such an environment become newly aware of their unity as they join in a common concern and a common response to an unjust reality. At the same time, confronted by these injustice, we are obliged, as Christians, to examine the ways in which we are complicit. Only by heeding Jesus’ prayer “that they all may be one” can we witness living unity in diversity. It is through our unity in Christ that we will be able to combat injustice and serve the needs of its victims.
Rev. Amjad Niamat, Interfaith Dialogue & Ecumenical Relation officer of Presbyterian Church in Pakistan, addressed to the congregations that churches are called to be foretaste of this kingdom. However in our disunity we fall short. We fail to be the sign of God’s love for his people. Just as injustice has widened the divisions that have riven Pakistani society, so injustice has also fed the divisions of church. We repent of the injustice that cause division, but as Christians we also believe in the power of Christ to forgive us and heal. And so, we find ourselves united under the cross of Christ, calling both for his grace to end injustice and for his mercy for the sins which have caused our division.
Ecumenical Commission for Human Development is an independent, Christian advocacy, humanitarian relief and development agency seeking journey together in unity and justice, action towards common witness and Christian service for all.