Mennonite Encounter: Aftermath

The Mennonite church rocks and not just because the congregations always sing in 4-part harmony, often a cappella.  AND all four verses.

Top that, Methodists.

Amidst an American Christian culture (and yes, it is distinctly American) that seems to be running amok and is sometimes frighteningly Taliban-esque in its overtones, the Mennonites are one of those branches that stand out from the crowd. Or rather, stand apart from the crowd and just go about their own business.

And what is their business?  As far as I can tell, their business is peace (they are so in your face about their peace, already! ha. just kidding), justice, equality and striving to live more simply so that others too might live, not just local neighbors but global neighbors.

What if, instead of going out into the community to “save” people, to “win them for the Lord” (yes, if you aren’t familiar with the lingo, this is one of the phrases), to proselytize, basically, to go out with an agenda of soul-winning, and go after this agenda disguised as a do-gooder, as someone handing out kindness and food and money and programs all the while with the main purpose of getting them into the church door and their butts into a pew, but what if, instead of that, we all went out into the community and shared kindness and food and money and programs for the main purpose of doing it because that’s what followers of The Teacher are supposed to do?

Think of the revolution.

Of course, I speak from my own cherished faith as a Christian, but what if EVERY faith background did this?  Offered charity and compassion because of a desire for them personally, themselves, to be more  like the one they follow, not to get the other person to follow that One?

I’m not a theologian and I don’t claim to be. I don’t claim to even be a particularly good Christian. (heck, I never even knew what Quiet Time was until I went to university. And?  Usually I would fall asleep during my Quiet Time. And I just asked Troy if he ever fell asleep during Quiet Time and he said “no” so I guess I WAS really the only one who did that and that shows you!)  Anyway, meditating yourself into a nap aside, I guess one of the things that makes me distance myself from American-style Christianity is the overwhelming emphasis of having strings attached. or at least that is how I perceive it.  I know it’s not always the case. But I know that with some people it is.

(and this is one of the reasons I think I support the current health care program overhaul. I’ve heard the argument that people want to help others through their churches, but again, there’s that “strings attached”. don’t you think maybe the government might be a good vehicle for us to do the Lord’s work of extending compassion and social justice? not always and it’s not perfect but it’s a good place to start, imho. AND it’s a lot easier when its just taken right out of your paycheck than to add that extra percentage to your weekly tithe, week after week, month after month, year after year. there’s lots of reasons to NOT add it in and not many to do so.)

Would Jesus act like that?  Did he really heal the lame and the blind just so they would go to temple or synagogue or home church or Wednesday prayer meeting?  Somehow, I kind of doubt it. Doing awesome stuff like that was, I think, just kind of an impulse, a compulsion; he couldn’t help it, it was just who he was.  And sure, he told them to go and sin no more, but really?  He just did it becaused he loved them in all their inopportune, unattactrive helplessness, put down and down-trodden, no resources and no way to buck the system or to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

So that’s one of the reasons I’m not an evangelical. I try to live simply and charitably because THAT’S WHAT’S EXPECTED OF ME. And usually I fail. But I try.  And if somehow someone wants to look behind that and understand my motivations, then we can go further but otherwise, I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and, hands off, I’ll just leave everything else up to God.

(or maybe I’m just lazy. remember, I often fell asleep during QT)

It’s a lot easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. MAYBE (yeah, actually, I’m PRETTY SURE) we need a lot less talking, a lot more listening and a lot more walking.

Because walking’s good for your heart.

I’m with the Mennonites; peace, justice, equality, simplicity. All that comes first and the rest all falls into place.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Mom
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 09:17:51

    I love many of your thoughts; especially the “walkings good for the heart”. My question then becomes: where do we fit in the part about “go into all the world and make disicples, baptizing them…”


    • ~m
      Nov 23, 2010 @ 13:57:36

      My first response was that this is just one verse of many in the Bible. My second thought was that evangelical Christianity has battened onto this verse as if their very salvation (or God’s livelihood) depended on it AND that this verse is right up the American cultural alley of “do-gooding” (or some might call it “interfering”). My third thought was that if people practiced “doing unto others” and “loving their neighbors as themselves” more, they might get more forward in their desire to disciple the world. My fourth thought was that I myself am not only made uncomfortable by but am downright repelled by people trying to convert me and there’s probably lots of others who feel the same. however, my fifth thought was that many are given gifts and called according to those gifts. If proselytizing and teaching is your gift, this verse is right up your alley. It’s taken me some years (ok, a few weeks) to not feel guilty for not “witnessing”. It’s not my personality and its not my gift and actually that’s ok, I now think.
      So in the end, I think if you truly are burdened to share the gospel, then God will honor that and provide opportunities for it. What I object to is the notion or feeling that this proselytizing comes first and foremost and is based not on a true, long-term interest for the proselytizees’ (read; vicitm’s^^) well-being but on a go-get-em, get-‘er-done kind of God’s Round-up Crew mentality. God’s bigger than that; He doesn’t truly need us to do his work, to bring people to an honoring of Him (even if the news is not explicitly told, nature will tell, right?). He wants us to be ready to meet His desires for our lives in whatever way that arises; not for furthering His agenda, but for molding our lives and spiritual growth.
      And now that Miles has spilled a bunch of popcorn all over the floor, I’ll stop blabbering.


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