(BP) – A group of evangelical leaders has issued and signed a letter calling for believers to be peacemakers, elevating their identities in Christ above societal divisions. A network known as The Matthew 5:9 Fellowship initiated the letter.
“Peacemaking, inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:9, is a more active, forward-leaning responsibility than peacekeeping,” said Matthew Hawkins, former policy director for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and founding member of the Matthew 5:9 Fellowship, in a statement. “Peacemakers lean in to where there is no peace and, well, make it. Thankfully, we have guidance from scripture on how to begin this work. The Apostle Paul admonished the Roman church, ‘Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification’ (Romans 14:19).”
The letter expresses concern about increasing divisions and violence in the U.S., particularly during an election season. It identifies four standards by which Christians can live and act according to their faith, including engaging others based on biblical values, condemning violence, calling for a fair and peaceful election and building peace in their communities.
“We know that elections, especially a deeply divisive election such as this one, can create pressures to act in ways that dishonor Christ’s teachings and biblical values,” the statement declares “We must reject these pressures and not compromise our faith. We pledge the following, and welcome our fellow Christians to join us in being peacemakers.”
The letter has been signed by more than 200 evangelicals, according to a release. Southern Baptist signatories include: Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas; Alan Cross pastor of Petaluma Valley Baptist Church in Petaluma, California; Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Alan Noble, assistant professor at, Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee; John Ogletree, senior pastor at First Metropolitan Church in Houston, Texas; Karen Swallow Prior Faculty, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina; Joel Rainey, lead pastor at Covenant Church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia; and Eric Schumacher, pastor of Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Ames, Iowa.
The letter can be viewed at https://matthew59.org/join-us/.