“I pray that this New Year will find us deeply engaged locally, regionally and globally in all possible efforts to overcome violence, hatred and persecution, and to resist manipulation of religion as a fuel to violence motivated by other interests,” Junge said in his Jan. 4 message.
Reflecting on Romans 12: 21, which says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Junge stated that the Paul’s letter makes it clear that this good can flow from the understanding that justification comes from God’s grace alone.
He pointed out that recent events in the world “remind us again how urgently needed is this resistance to violence” especially when violence is carried out under the pretext of religion.
“Justification frees human beings from the obsession of fearful self-justification, or of violent self-imposition over and against others. The freedom resulting from justification is a responsible, accountable freedom,” the general secretary noted.
Junge called for sensitivity to expressions of violence that are often not captured by the media, but continue to deeply hurt human beings. Referring to violence against women, he recalled the LWF’s Eleventh Assembly commitment to overcome this evil by intensifying work on this issue within the Lutheran communion itself and in society.
He pointed out that at the July 2010 Assembly Lutherans “were able to grasp this liberating power of justification by grace” when they asked God and their Mennonite sisters and brothers for forgiveness for the violence they suffered at the hands of Lutherans.
“This action strengthened our conviction that religion and violence, faith and oppression do not belong together, but are a contradiction in itself,” Junge said.
The general secretary added that it was encouraging to see LWF member churches worldwide working against corruption, injustice and violence, adding that their witness was strengthened when carried out ecumenically and with other faiths.
“As we move into this New Year that God is laying before us, I invite you all to continue focusing on the good as a way of expressing who we are: a communion that lives faith from the perspective of justification and that enjoys the wonderful freedom to accept and serve the neighbor,” Junge concluded.