Wednesday, July 17, 2013
All Labels Aside- Why Be Anabaptist?
Recently, I've been rather challenged to remain among The Anabaptists. I know I am not plain... I am not ultra conservative, nor am I so radical that I want to live in a colony.
I love the group I worship with, I certainly do. I agree with "most" of their doctrine, as I do agree with the most basic of Anabaptist theology. I certainly do not feel called to worship in any other church.. I feel connected and loved where I'm at
But that's pretty much where the rubber meets the road. You see, I'm not sure we can say for certain HOW God feels on a lot of issues? I can tell you how He feels about the issues surrounding the 10 Commandments, but then more questions arise when you put it to the test. Take Murder for example? Of course we are not to murder anyone. Right? What about war? What about the police? What about self defense for your family??? Yes, I know most Anabaptists are conscientious objectors and will not go to war literally. But would they protect their children from harm? What about voting? Some say it's a sin to be involved, and some participate.
"Some" Anabaptists seem to have a fairly firm opinion on how God feels about everything from divorce and remarriage, to alcohol, war, and even foster care? Yep, some people think they've got it nailed down. And all of it is by building a case, just as an attorney would with scripture. They take several scriptures, from different places in the Bible and link them altogether to form a defense for the subject they are trying to defend or prove. ... Unless you visit another church, which may have different views on the previously mentioned subject, with a nailed-tight scriptural opinion based on some other view of how the subject should be translated. It's a lot to digest!
I'll speak about what I've witnessed personally: Mennonites tend to reason much of the individual church theology, which can vary from church to church, district to district, committee to committee. Everyone has an argument and are willing to split what they at one moment call *the body of Christ* over it, and start an entirely NEW body of Christ a few miles away. Now, is this wrong? No, not if it's to end cult like control that can't be reasoned with. But the whole theology is to love each other so humbly... I'm perplexed WHY the most humble can't humble themselves with each other? I suppose they are asking themselves the same question? I'm not here to judge... I'm just trying to wrap my mind around it all, and I've been doing this for over 17 years. But in the end, it's the people that keep me coming back, because after all; people are people regardless of their labels. The Mennonites seem to have a certain simplicity not only in their dress and habits, but also in their love of family. It's just not all that complicated to them and that is very appealing to me.
I've never known love and friendship like I've known among the Mennonites. I am not one of them... I am grafted in. Jesus had some thoughts on grafting in the ones who love Him and I believe while they have their flaws, as any human, the Mennonites I know personally have one character trait that really sets them apart and keeps pulling back to them; They LOVE with their whole heart. And as someone not raised in the Anabaptist faith.., I see things from a peculiar perspective. I've been Baptist, Non-Denominational, and attended a Lutheran Church (a.k.a. "Catholic Light"), for a reasonable amount of time. I spent many a weekend with my Grandmothers at their Pentecostal Assemblies...As a child I would secretly visit The Methodists and The Church of God to see how they compare to The Southern Baptist Church my parents assumed I was at? Yes, I know this was deceitful now, but as a kid, it seemed more like civil disobedience? I was a bit mischievous then. Guess I still am?
After all these years of attending various denominations, I find a sense of ease in the simplicity of The Mennonites, and I am also challenged to practice their belief in non-resistance. This doesn't always happen in a flawless, un-bumpy path. It is often a trail of regret that leads me to rethink my actions. I have always had a big mouth. Those who know me are smiling and nodding. And it's difficult for me to stand back, be quiet, stay reserved, and let God do things in His time. I'm more inclined to pop-off, lean in, raise an eyebrow, and stare someone down when challenged. But I see in the lives of my Mennonite sisters, that none of that is necessary. Most of the time, I am simply in the way, like a tree in the road. They have taught me to be patient, quiet, tender, and obedient. Not that it always happens that way, trust me, I'm still me. Still, my friends have been there, and prayed with me and for me as I work against myself day to day. I'm always envious that they were raised to be gentle. I was raised by wolves in comparison!
I think I've found my niche among the Mennonites, and I'm content to just be among them, and feel no pressure to be a cookie cutter version of them. I'm staying put. I just do my best to love God, take their interpretations to heart, and respect their culture, just as I have every domination. And all this travelling around various denominations paid off and created something neutral and unique: It gave me a beautiful perspective to love all denominations for whatever in them shines the brightest. For me, my Mennonite friends shine like diamonds in the sun. I have stopped worrying about what facet shines for what reason? I'm just thankful they shine.