Examples (Jesus and other Christians)
To live better lives Christians follow the examples of other famous Christians who are known for acts of kindness and good deeds they have committed during their lives. The most famous of these of course is Jesus but there are more modern day ones as well.
Martin Luther King
Cicely Saunders was a doctor and a member of an Anglecan Church who opposed euthanasia. She felt that the moments at the end of a person's life were just as special as any other. She believed that dying was just as natural as being born and that you mattered even at the last dying moment of your life.
In 1967 she founded the hospice movement with St Christopher's, the world's first purpose built hospice. Now there are 220 hospices with 60,000 people admitted and 120,000 supported at home by them in the UK and there are over 8,000 hospices worldwide.
The hospice is a place where expert pain and sympton relief is combined by all-round care to meet the physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of patients, their family and friends. They give those nearing the ends of their life comfortable, warm surroundings. It sees the dignity of every human person.
The hospice movement emphasises: compassionate care with expert pain relief, healing (if not physically then spiritually, valuing the person and every moment of their life.
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King was a black American Christian (and Baptist Minister) who believed that God created black and white people equally. He lived during a time when it was not against the law to discriminate against black people. They earned half what white people earned, many could not vote, they lived in ghettos and were often segregated in public places.
He believed all humans were 'made in the image and likeness of God'. Because of his Christian beliefs he worked towards equality by organising non-violent protests. He believed that it was never right to use violence, because this does not express the love of God, it just expresses hatred. He believed in non-violent direct action.
After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to vacate her seat on a bus for a white person, he and other community leaders decided to act as they'd had enough of being treated unfairly, they organised the bus boycott which caused a law to be passed stating that it was illegal to segregate black and white people on buses.
In subsequent years he organised freedom marches, 'Sit-in's', silent protests and gave many fine speeches protesting against injustice. Despite many threats to his life and being faced by much violence he never responded with violence, believeing that violence and hatred could only be overcome by love and forgiveness. Being inspired by Gandhi and taking strength from his faith in God and and his Christian belief. He constantly stressed the need to love even their enemies and pray for those who persecuted them.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a South African Church minister who rose to worldwide acclaim as an opponent to the apartheid government during the 1980s.
In South Africa during this time the majority black population were not allowed to vote or allowed to use white facilities, housed in impoverish townships and were excluded from many public services. Police beatings were common and black political opposition was met with assault, executions and torture.
Desmopnd Tutu campaigned against injustice, rising in the Church and using his position to bring pressure for change through the international boycott of South African goods. He organised massive peaceful demonstrations and ultimately contributed to the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of the apartheid system.
He was later awarded the Noble Peace Prize and the Gandhi Peace Prize.
He went on to chair the Truth and Reconcilliation Commision which contributed to the peaceful transition from the unjust of old to new democratic South Africa.
Jean Vanier is the founder of L'Arche, an international organisation which builds communities where people with disabilities and those who care for them share life together.
He felt called by God to to set up a community in which disabled people and carers could recognise each others' unique gifts. And believed that communities could change the world.
He set up Light and Faith groups, made up of people with developmental disabilities, their family and friends who meet regularly to discuss the hopes and difficulties they face in life and pray together.
Vanier believed that when confronted with human brokeness and weakness, people find a God whose love is without limitation.
There are now 130 L'Arche in 30 countries, found in different religious and cultural settings but their work is still based on living and working together and appreciating each others' value.