Sunday, January 22, 2012

Same Problem, Different Day - Historical Mennonites

I'm posting an excerpt from "Readings From Mennonite Writings, New & Old" by J. Craig Haas.
  I find it kind of interesting that this was considered an OLD problem in 1827??

Johannes Rissler, 1827

When a church has simply presumptuous piety, which is always paired with Pharisaical pride, it is likewise in its nature to fear the pure gospel and therefore resist and oppose it, especially when foreign (i.e., non-Mennonite) evangelists unite with it.  The evidence for this is clear from the present back to Christ.
It is therefore also clear that the reasons given were only a pretext and that it was really not the men but the gospel that was feared. One is full of mistrust, as if the Holy Scripture had not given us plain standards for proving the spirits.
And even though he may not protest against all good proposals, neither does he promote them; and even if one merely passes his mistrust on to his neighbor he is nonetheless causing harm. Another feels his pride is injured because he is supposed to listen to outside counselors and this is sufficient reason for turning his back to them. A third party is so out of sorts that he closes his heart and ears to the truth and actually works against things that are good: he is in a serious danger that the truth can become for him an "aroma of death" (2 Corinthians 2:16)
In short,  I must confess that in my eyes our church, in its CRITICISM OF IT'S OUTSIDE BRETHREN, has revealed itself as weakest of all.
Risser-1827 3, 4, translated by Eli H. Bender


How is it that over 150 years ago, some Mennonites (or fill in your denomination of choice) were concerned about division between THE BODY OF CHRIST??? Because it's always been there and always will be. I despise hearing people comment on other denominations as if they, (being the members, the body of Christ) are somehow disenfranchised from us, those who think they know better? I cringe every time I hear an anti-Catholic remark, or something about the Episcopals and how liberal they all are. The energy it takes to spout off about human frailty, verses keeping our mouths shut is enormous, I admit. I know the temptation of getting a *dig* in, because I'm human. But every single day we are becoming more mature spiritually. When do we become accountable? When do we take responsibility for our negative, hurtful, behavior that does nothing to edify (build) the body of Christ, and has great impact on destroying it?

Another issue is a growing trend of *un-churching*, and casting religion aside to do our own thing. That's great if doing your own thing happens to be exactly what the Bible says to do. More often than not, it's somehow tied to loving our neighbor as ourself. The bible doesn't specify WHO our neighbor is, or which neighbor to love. It's blanketed. It's everyone. It's the church down the street that you can't stand, and the neighbor who won't shut up about their fellowship and how great it is. It's the crabby old lady at the grocery store, it's the drunk on the street. And yes, it's the other denominations besides your own. If you want to throw religion aside, read your bible first... here, let me help:  *wink*

Romans 13:8-10     

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Matthew 22:36-40     

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

 This is a very modern problem with a very historical pattern. We want to pick and choose and noone wants to be told what to do... by anyone. We can of course excercise common sense when it comes to who and what we are listening to. Can I get an amen? You see, the enemy comes with every intention of tearing the church apart, and his best stradegy is from within the core... the people... the brothers and sisters who serve the same God under different peripheral pretenses, yet still have the same focus: Jesus, our redeemer. He wants to destroy us by getting at the very heart of the body. Satan doesn't play nice or even play fair. We need to stand united with those who truly serve Christ.

Yet, we as humans, (myself included) have this inclination to legitimize everything we do. We will point the finger at another denomination, or person, or group, and not see our own short comings. (thus the plank in our eye!) We are ONE body. ONE. The denominational label will not exhist in heaven. It is only here on earth to define little peripheral details. Chew on that for a while or let me know if I'm out of line? But I believe there is both redeemed  and decieved people in every denomination. Of course some of the teaching is historically irrelivant. Of course some of the practices need re-thinking. But ya know being Mennonite (or Catholic, or Methodist, or Penticostal) doesn't make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car!!!

Knowing JESUS intimately, knowing his sacrifice, knowing your unworthiness without his blood shed for your sin... and refusing His gift of eternal life when we truly repent of our sin... that's what makes you a redeemed follower of Christ.

Romans 10:9-11 If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are put right with God, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

 The bible says to not forsake the assembling of ourselves as a body... so be cautious that as your sorting through the man-made stuff you don't forget to commune with each other. That's what feeds our souls and keeps us strong in The Lord. That's what gives us opportunity to see others needs and reach out. That's when the body of Christ comes together and operates as one.

 Hebrews 10:25     
"Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

   The Bible says there WILL be wolves in sheep's clothing. And we can expect it. But it won't be in the form of everyone EXCEPT the church your in. Mennonite or otherwise. So go forward and be kind and love thy neighbor, whoever they are, even those who you'd rather not... go ahead- love and accept them, even if their way isn't your way. 

  Serve God with all your heart, and with all the humility you can muster to as many as you can fit inside that God-Shaped heart He gave you.


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