Holding on to Heritage

There are few things in life I truly wish I understood better. First and foremost is the mind of God, who I know I cannot fully comprehend but desire to anyway. Second is that of my religious background, specifically that of the Mennonite tradition.  A renewed interest in the second has come from a recent visit to my alma mater, IWU, where I spent a couple hours browsing the library for material on Mennonite doctrine and history.

Those who may have heard of the Mennonites might think of horse-and-buggy, small churches, good food (YEAH!), and global missions.  And I could not refute those as being somewhat true, yet it is not that which I find myself seeking.  What I seek is the doctrinal core of that which the Mennonite tradition adheres and to find that which has shaped me to who I am today.

The primary value that the Mennonite tradition has implanted within me is the expectation of nothing.  Humility at its greatest, seeking little but finding much.  By allowing God to fill in the blanks, I am able to round out my life in a way I should not be capable of doing.  Ultimately this is a form of trust that does not stem from any strict Scriptural doctrine but rather finds satisfaction in what I have been given.  Another Mennonite value I am pleased to have is a value for diligence and hard work.  Mennonite communities have always been known for the quality and quantity of their labor, and I pray I am able to reflect that in my own life.

Other Mennonite values I hold to are the importance of the church community, the value of one’s word, and the committal to nonresistance and the abhorrence of war and strife:
-A church without a community is nothing more than a social club. Community strengthens our beliefs, covers our weaknesses, and encourages our endeavors.  A church that lacks a strong community within is not fit to build a strong community without, at least this is what I believe.
-A man who is unable to maintain his word at face value has no purpose swearing an oath, therefore we should commit ourselves to fulfilling our promises, standing our moral ground, and putting every effort to make our word truth.  Therefore let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no.
-As for nonresistance, I must admit I am not the perfect example.  While I do not condone the use of violence in any form as a means of persuasion, I am prone to enjoy my games of violence, such as paintball, video games, and the like.  However I’m strictly against the participation in warfare and strife.  This does not mean I do not support our troops, on the contrary I am proud of our forces who lay down their lives in defense of our great nation, but it does mean I will not aid the efforts of those in support of furthering violence.

Perhaps the hardest thing about the Mennonite tradition, and that of the Christian life, is the ultimatum we choose to live by, to “be in the world, but not of it”.

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