Distinguished Religious Leaders,
It is a great honor to address you today on this theme: “Toward Interdependence and Mutual Prosperity: The Role of Religious Leaders.”
The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have seen the rapid development of science and technology, especially in the fields of communications and transportation, bringing humanity closer to each other in an unprecedented way. The “global village” concept is today more real than ever.
However, this globalization has come with its own lots of social ailments as they are so easily carried and transmitted from one country or community to the next. We all are aware of the fact that our world is immersed in deep suffering. Although the Cold War may have come to an end, conflicts are still occurring in all corners of the world, and evil, hatred and injustice continue to afflict humanity. There are many people suffering in despair and spiritual poverty, even in materially abundant, advanced nations. Although many people are seeking solace through drugs and indiscriminate sex, they are running headlong down the road to spiritual and physical ruin. Obviously, no one desires a world of such evil, conflict and despair.
Another challenge is the ever-growing developmental inequality and gap between developed and underdeveloped nations. The lack of the willingness to share technology and the control over the market prices of raw materials and natural resources have made capitalism a system characterized by selfish-individualism. This is a hindrance to building a society of interdependence and mutual prosperity. Both inside and outside the developed nations, this is creating havoc.
Now the time has come for religions to take leadership in the world. Leadership cannot emerge from blind faith or an arrogant and self-righteous attitude stemming from narrow-mindedness. True leadership arises when one subordinates oneself to the Will of Heaven and acts altruistically. It is time for religious people to step up and face their responsibility toward the conditions of this age and its unprincipled facets, and to examine themselves deeply. Religious people need to repent for their failure to exemplify the practice of love and, because they were engrossed in their personal salvation or the interests of their own religious denominations, for their failure to invest entirely for the salvation of humankind. This age requires the practice of love, not only faith.
God is calling us. He passionately desires to challenge injustice and evil in the world and express His true love. All religions need to be of one mind in making known and actualizing God’s fervent hope for humanity. God transcends all rituals and doctrines, which have led to dispute between believers. He desires that we raise our spirit through profound spiritual dialogue and exchange with Him. Religions need to establish the spiritual order with which human beings, who have a spiritual nature, can align themselves closely. They have to systematize this spiritual order and create a lifestyle that expresses it rationally. Religious leaders of all creeds need to take the lead in self-discipline and, with mutual respect for each other, build influential interreligious organizations.
Religious leaders need to guide the spiritual culture of humankind and pursue genuine values for human happiness. Religious ideals, together with the wisdom and values that accompany them, must permeate the education, scholarship, art, physical education, media, politics and economics of the world, and serve as their standard.
Religious leaders have the mission to open the way for the original nature of humanity to clear away this unhappiness, and to build a world overflowing with peace and joy. This is the very path that religions have sought to tread. Nonetheless, the ideal world for which humanity has been yearning has not yet been realized. At the core of religion lies the desire to reveal the source of the unhappiness and suffering of humanity. If we are ignorant of the source of suffering, we cannot even hope to get rid of it. The solution to this is possible only through knowledge derived from divine revelation.
God established religions for His providence of salvation. The path they must exemplify is one of principle. Because human life is conceived as rooted in the ideal of love, the essence of human life is love. A being that is born on the basis of love needs to live for others in the same way God does. This is the principle of Heaven. Consequently, one can say that we are beings who have come into existence for the purpose of true love. True love starts from the point of living for others. Human beings, as they were originally created, contained God’s true love in their mind and body and responded to it naturally.
The ideal of genuine freedom, peace and happiness is attainable only when the mind and body become one focusing on true love. Furthermore, we can achieve a free and peaceful family, nation and world only on the foundation of the unity of mind and body. The cardinal point of peace ought to be found not at the global or national level, but in the relationship between mind and body within the individual.
We are grateful to the founders of the Universal Peace Federation for their visionary leadership. Their ideals and vision are guiding the twenty-first century towards a world of true peace and co-prosperity. Their teachings are providing a fundamental solution to the chronic ailments of modern society by restoring the original ideal for the family.
According to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, our « True Mother », “God’s ideal of a one-world family, transcending race and based on true love, is directly connected to the realization of a peaceful world. The people of the world can have children of goodness and practice correct ethics when they build blessed families under God’s ideal of true love and become exemplary husbands and wives. Then ideal families that are the fruit of true love can be established, and ideal societies, ideal nations and the ideal world will come into being.”
Rather than satisfying ourselves with interreligious harmony, the next step from here is to involve ourselves more positively in social activities, by creating a broad-based, united organization aimed at world peace, in cooperation with opinion makers in the academic, political and media spheres. This is the vision behind the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development. In cultivating and guiding this organization to fulfill God’s Will on earth, religions need to exemplify the spirit of living for others. We need to live for the sake of a higher purpose beyond our denomination or faith tradition.
Let us all open our spiritual ears once again and, inclining them toward Heaven, follow God’s advice with a humble heart. We need to be aware of the mission that God has bequeathed to the religious leaders of this age and, by correctly guiding the human spirit, secure the spiritual and mental order of the new world culture.
Author: Archbishop Dr Johanes Ndanga
Founder and Director, Pentecostal Church of Christ International
Archbishop Dr Johanes Ndanga is the founder and leader of the Pentecostal Church of Christ International and the founder and executive president of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ), whose membership exceeds three quarters of the national population. Since September 10, 2010, he has ordained over 5000 bishops to the ministry of various churches in and outside Zimbabwe. He is a theologian specializing in intercultural studies and holds a doctoral degree in church management. He is an apostle of social justice with a specific focus on the rights and freedom of women and children.