En färggrann fågelholk i form av ett hus hänger i ett träd.
Foto: Gustaf Hellsing /Ikon

Loving your neighbour central to Christian faith

Protecting the vulnerable and fostering good relationships, regardless of religious or ethnic background, is part of the Church’s mandate. In other words: loving your neighbour and Christian faith are inextricably linked.

The programme A world of neighbours – interfaith practices for peace aims to contribute to peaceful coexistence and a humane and socially sustainable Europe that defends basic democratic values. An inclusive society – a world of neighbours.

Love your neighbour as yourself

The work of the Church of Sweden is based on the conviction that all people are created in God’s image and that human dignity is thus inviolable. In the long term, nobody can maintain their dignity when their neighbour is being deprived of it. This follows from Jesus’ words on loving your neighbour and our belief that anything we do to the smallest and weakest in society, we also do to Jesus (Matt. 25:40). We thus encounter Jesus in our fellow humans.

Those who are vulnerable risk being robbed of their dignity, time after time. And each time this happens, the whole of humanity loses part of its dignity, part of its soul. The partnership between Christian churches, between people of faith and between all people of good will is key in this context. It is about contributing to integration and social cohesion in the world using the Gospel as a basis and Jesus Christ as a role model.

Jesus include the others

When Jesus talks about loving your neighbour as yourself (Matt. 22:34ff.) or about the good Samaritan and concludes with the question of who is the attacked man’s neighbour (Luke 10:25ff.), a Greek word is used that also means neighbour. But Jesus simultaneously intensifies and expands the message of love to also include those who we do not normally regard as our neighbour.

Showing generosity and hospitality towards people of a different faith, too, is treating others as we wish to be treated ourselves. The freedom and love that have been given to us, and that we are called upon to show each other, form a central part of the Christian faith. For us Christians this is clearest in Jesus Christ and his love for the world.

No peace without coexistence

In actual fact we have no other option: peace is not possible unless people of different faiths can live side by side, and this in turn requires that they are able to talk to each other and work together in society. This requires neighbourly collaboration that involves both religious leaders and inhabitants in the local area.