Monday, June 30, 2008

Anabaptist, One And All (A lesson on tolerance)

One of these things is not like the other... One of these things is not the same. Or is that a judgement observance???

Actually, all these women have one thing in common: They are ALL Anabaptist. Yes, even the girl in Birkenstocks.

This is just my observation and yes, annoyance with the Anabaptists in general. I love the people, but would like to see less of a gap between the liberal and conseravative groups.

Speaking to many conservative Mennonites, and plain friends, they feel like the liberal Mennonites have sold out by allowing women to cut their hair, stop covering, wear pants, and serve in leadership.

Personally, I am inspired by these pictures. I see women with a united love for Christ. Some have strong convictions that are more visible on the outside, to the casual observer.

While I personally may feel that women SHOULD cover for prayer, I cannot judge anyone who doesn't. I CAN pray for them. But the Bible says clearly that I am to never judge them, lest I should be judged.

Maybe they have stronger convictions on the INSIDE in areas that I am weak in??? I know that God loves them dearly, and that it takes more than a headcovering and a cape dress or jumper to make you a Christian. I believe the concept that being PLAIN as a *requirement* is a divisional factor in the Anabaptist relationships between conservative and liberal congregations.
Arguements over socks, sandals, veil, kapps, prints, zippers, suspeders, belts, short sleeve, 3/4 length sleeves, are never-ending and ridiculous, and a source of division that Satan delights in.
Growing up close to my Nanny (Grandmother) in her Pentecostal Church taught me that women CAN make reasonable decisions for themselves and the boundries can be broadened without fear of hellfire and brimstone. *grin* Every single woman there was able to decide on a dress or skirt without strict details on prints and how the garment was bound.

This is a list of liberal Mennonite Women who blend & fellowship with more conservative Mennonite Women. I am not suggesting that we do anything other than reach out to other Christian women, even those who aren't conservative.

I also know many conservative Mennonites who do not judge. They are more than willing to accept one persons convictions as personal and not read into it. They welcome anyone and everyone into their services and withhold judgement. You see, they KNOW God will use them as an example...they needn't do a thing other than show love and kindness. It was what drew ME to the Mennonites.

SO the only problem I have with any of what I wrote above is something I have yet to work out: What does the BIBLE say???

It does say a womans hair is her glory... It says for women to cover during prayer, and it does say to be modest. It also says women are to be silent in church. Whats a girl to do???
The answer: Follow my conviction and don't worry about anyone but me.

How do we react? Not fellowship with anyone who lacks the same convictions? No, I don't believe that is the answer. Likeminded isn't 100% agreement. Too many churches SPLIT over peripheral issues.
I believe God meets us where we are when we first come to Him as new Christians. I believe the answer is to love people regardless, and excercise tolerance. While we are in the midst of this excercise, it might be good to ask GOD to convict them in these areas in HIS OWN TIMING.

You know, some women might just see you as a Godly example if you do it with joy, love, and without an ounce of self-righteousness. (It's a thought) It might plant a seed. But people have their own vanity, pride, and personal agenda's to tackle through the Grace of God long before they will ever consider letting their locks grow out or wearing a doily or veil on their head.
Don't you think some people put the cart before the horse, and try to be everyone's Holy Spirit?

Yes, we are to fellowship with like-minded believers. But that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything...every last detail. We need to focus on the BIG STUFF, and let the Holy Spirit do it's job as it see's fit.

Before you rail at me about what the Bible says about Obedience, heaven and hell.... please keep in mind, we are personally accountable for ourselves, and no one else. I will NEVER lead a church because I believe MEN are to be the leaders. So I will personally follow my own convictions. Just because the Mennonite Central Committee allows something does NOT make it correct. However, I have known Conservative Churches to enforce rules that are NOT in the Bible. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Some women may never be drawn to serve in modesty or long hair... they may never cover. But they may do OTHER things that honor God. In a perfect world we would do it ALL. That perfect world is in another kingdom...not here.

So, lesson for today; ponder what God wants for you in your life. Do you LOOK like a Christian from the outside in? Do you ACT like a Christian from the inside out? How can you do better in both areas? How can you minister to those who are far more liberal without acting judgemental.

That's a lot to chew on. But loving people unconditionally as God loves us... As Jesus loved those around him, and as we will be loved for eternity is a start.
I personally wear reasonably modest clothing. I don't feel a need to go overboard in any direction. But I am also not a member of a plain church. If I was, I would heed their standards.
That's the point. Not everyone who isn't a member of a plain church isn't in fear for their mortal souls, but could maybe use some pointers on how we as women CAN please God and our husbands with out appearance.
I have grown so much spiritually from the non-judgemental relationships with my plain sisters, that words cannot express my gratitude. Those patient souls who haven't judged or chastized me have witnessed me grow in modesty, grace, and seen my femininity flourish. I didn't join a conservative church, but I grew to adopt Godly practices because they allowed The Holy Spirit to convict me and didn't waste their time trying. They just loved me.
Consequently, I have a neighbor and a family member who recently asked me for headcoverings as a birthday or Christmas gift. They saw, they read, they prayed, and THEN they were convicted.. I didn't have to do a thing. Just obey.

Let's catch them, and let GOD clean them...


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