Tuesday, July 29, 2008
When I saw the body of Abe his hands drew my attention. They were peacefully folded on his lap. His wedding ring clear for all to see (he was married for 63 years...what an amazing testimony). As I looked at his hands I realized that these hands held the hands of his grandfather (possibly even his great grandfather). That this man walked and held hands with people who lived in the 1800s. He is a link to our past.
Then I saw his young great grandson. Looking at him I realized that this young boy (the lord willing) will hold hands with people who will walk 2100s. He is our link to the future.
We truly are tied to our past and to our future.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Matthew 6:24 - Jesus says "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (New Revised Standard)
Now the context of the verse is very clear. We cannot serve both our money and God, we have to choose. This message needs to be affirmed and taught in our churches. I wonder if I could stretch this verse to apply to more than just money. Jesus does say we cannot serve two masters. God can be our only master, to him and him alone do we give our loyalty and allegiance. Money is one of the masters that makes a claim for our lives. But what are some of the others masters? Addictions (food/drugs/alcohol/pornography), capitalism, democracy, freedom, security, family, possessions, governments, church...
Now when Anabaptists declared that they are citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus. They were making a political statement (not just a moral one). In a sense they were committing treason. They declared that they were not loyal to the government but that they were loyal to God. Now does the bible actually allow us to say this?
Romans 10:9 - Paul says "because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Confessing Jesus as lord is much more radical than is often believed. It is often believed that this simply means saying a prayer and asking Jesus into one's heart (not a bad thing but confessing Jesus as lord is much greater than that). Brian McLaren says, "Sometimes the Greek term kurios [Lord] simply means 'sir', but it is also the term used for the emperor. He is the ultimate 'sir', the ultimate authority, the king of kings, and the lord of all lords. The earliest confession of the earliest followers of Jesus - Jesus is Lord - was not in this light primarily a theological confession of Jesus' divinity, as many today assume; it was a very earthly declaration that Jesus, not Caesar, was the ultimate authority." ("Everything Must Change", page 98)
As an Anabaptist I say a hearty "Amen". Jesus is my ultimate authority.
Of course this raises the question. How as a follower Jesus am I to relate to my government? What is my responsibility to the government?
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Here are the 12 main beliefs that early Anabaptists held to.
1) Disciples of Jesus are citizens of the kingdom of peace
2) Citizens of the kingdom of peace must separate themselves from this world
3) The followers of Jesus should live together as a community of equals under Jesus as Lord and master
4) Disciples are stewards, not owners of property
5) The believing community should be governed by the Spirit of God mediated by its servants – the ministers and teachers
6) Disciples are to live by the sword of the Spirit in building the kingdom of peace
7) The Anabaptists read the Bible as a focused rather than a flat canon
8) Menno Simmons believed that the believing community should serve as an exegetical community in interpreting Scripture
9) Menno Simmons believed that the church can best make decisions on the basis of consensus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit
10) Menno Simmons believed that the congregation should fully participate in church governance as part of the Body of Christ
11) Menno Simmons believed that church members should practice sacrificial servanthood rather than seeking privileged status as God’s chosen people
12) Menno Simmons believed that the people of God should be identified by their discipleship, not by doctrine and ideology
Are there any that you agree with? Any that you think are totally crazy?