The Pacifism of Jesus and The Church’s Role in Social Justice Issues

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1357 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Words: 1357|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Table of contents

  1. Definition
  2. Theological basis in understanding the pacifism of Jesus
  3. Relation of Jesus pacifism with non-violent protests in history
  4. Non -violence and non -retaliation in modern day ptotests in Kenya
  5. How the church can levrage Jesus?


Pacifism is the opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; specifically: refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds. Therefore, we can further describe Jesus pacifism as he who taught peace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, non-retaliation and love of enemies, and lives his life according to these principles. He is a warrior figure, who leads an invincible army and who is determined to exact violent and merciless vengeance on his enemies. He conducted a mission of teaching and healing in Galilee plus willingly died on a cross in Jerusalem and finally, who had unfailing trust in the goodness and justice of God.

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Theological basis in understanding the pacifism of Jesus

"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."(1 peter 3:9)

For Christians, revenge is never the right option. Period. Peter echoes the teaching of Jesus, as well as that of Paul, in making it perfectly clear that those in Christ—those set apart to a new purpose—are not allowed to "get even." Peter is writing to believers who were likely experiencing both physical harms and "reviling" (or insults) for their faith in Christ. The way of the world and our normal human impulse is to strike back with the same hurtful treatment we receive. Peter commands us to completely refuse that instinct.

Instead of repaying evil with evil or insult with insult, Peter commands those in Christ to "bless," or give a blessing. A blessing is a positive statement. For a Christian, it's a request that God would help another person to succeed in some way, that he or she would experience God's favor. Why would we ever do such a thing for someone who has hurt or insulted us? Peter answered that question in 1 Peter 2:21–25. We respond with a blessing when given evil, because that's what Jesus did for us, and He is the one we follow. We're walking in His steps.

Peter adds two ideas here. First, as Christians, we are called to this work of giving blessings in exchange for evil and insults. That's part of our purpose as God's set-apart people on earth. This is a powerful tool for social change, since only forgiveness can break the cycle of revenge.

Relation of Jesus pacifism with non-violent protests in history

An instance of pacifism in relation to non-violent protests in history is clearly brought out in the life experience of Martin Luther King Jr. an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement. Having grown up in Atlanta and witnessed segregation and racism every day, King was “fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system” (King 1958).

While intellectually committed to nonviolence, King experienced the power of nonviolent direct action during the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 where he personally enacted Gandhi’s principles. He didn’t use armed bodyguards despite threats on his life, and reacted to violent experiences, such as the bombing of his home, with compassion. Through the practical experience of leading nonviolent protest, King came to understand how nonviolence could become a way of life, applicable to all situations. King called the principle of nonviolent resistance the “guiding light of our movement. Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method” (King 1960)

  1. PRINCIPLE ONE: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
  2. PRINCIPLE TWO: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
  3. PRINCIPLE THREE: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people.
  4. PRINCIPLE FOUR: Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
  5. PRINCIPLE FIVE: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
  6. PRINCIPLE SIX: Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

Martin Luther King Jr. fought for equality in a time of hate, pain and discrimination. Unlike many during that time, he fought with one weapon, that weapon was love. Like Jesus, MLK had hate thrown at him from every angle, yet he still fought with love. He wanted the world to be peaceful. He didn’t create grudges against the people who persecuted him, he just wanted them to feel the love that could be possible if there were no more discrimination and hate. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Non -violence and non -retaliation in modern day ptotests in Kenya

On August5, 2010 Kenyans adopted a new constitution by the partiicipation of almost 70% of voters. This came about due to the involvement of non-violent struggle for constitutional reform that had lasted up to two decades. The principle of non-violence has been applied to some extent in the context of the Kenyan constitutional reform process, where civil society organizations have called for mass action accompanied by civil disobedience, while specifically discouraging violence. Thus, for example, mass action began in Kenya on May 3, 1997 and ended on October 20, 1997.(mutunga 1999).

This mass action took forms such as rallies, demonstrations, processions, strikes, sit-ins, vigils and prayers. Mass action challenged the legitimacy of the existing legal order by attempting to use non-violent means of protest. Mass action in this sense was used as an alternative to armed struggle. . However, even this mass action has its negative consequences, resulting in some deaths at the hands of police and also some individuals engaging in looting. Violence is not the only way to bring about dramatic social change and eliminate unjust relationships in society.(Jeong,2017) ( A vital goal of non-violent action is the preservation of human life.)

Elections can also be considered as a non-violent means of achieving needed social change. It is argued by advocates of non-violence that violent action by one party to a conflict does not justify retaliation in terms of violence. The objective of non-violent struggle is not victory over the other side but mutual gain through realizing an intrinsically good end. Indeed, the nonviolent resister does not seek to defeat the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding.(Washington.1986)

How the church can levrage Jesus?

A number of Kenyans are, however, clearly aware of the structural conflict situation in which they live. The evidence for this assertion is the increasing role that members of the public play in criticizing the conduct of the government. Their participation in debates in the media also shows some awareness of the conflict issues they face. It will be argued that it is not necessary for all Kenyans be aware that they are in a conflict situation in order for that conflict to exist. Civil society and the media have a very important role in increasing the general awareness of Kenyans about the anomalous state of the constitution.

Through a partnership between Kenya-based Change Agents for Peace International (CAPI) and and the British Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW), programmes should be launched to help grassroots communities analyse the power relationships and social injustices endemic in Kenya society, and to develop and implement nonviolent campaigns.

These campaigns challenged corruption, impunity, poverty, bribery and inequality in specific and concrete ways. In addition to in-depth training, the programme included ongoing accompaniment and an overarching strategy that had as its aim building a mass nonviolent movement for free and fair elections.based on these acts if people have nonviolent strategies for challenging injustice they will be less likely to resort to direct violence, and more likely to change the structural conditions that lead to that violence in the first place.

Apply your insights in order to build a lasting peace sustainable peace, the church and political community need to speak out strongly and loudly against social injustice, but without resorting to violent methods.

There should be Provisions to address structural root casuses of conflict and violence but it is up up to the Kenyan people to ensure that these were put into practice for it is also part of their obligation inorder to safeguard social justice

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The individuals present in the government who serve as leaders should portray the concept of common good.The leadership should not be self-serving but rather strive to consider and serve the citizens of the country as a whole and not for their own selfish gains

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THE PACIFISM OF JESUS AND THE CHURCH’S ROLE IN SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
THE PACIFISM OF JESUS AND THE CHURCH’S ROLE IN SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
THE PACIFISM OF JESUS AND THE CHURCH’S ROLE IN SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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