What is a Mennonite?
If you’re asking that question, you are in good company. Many people ask that question. The long answer would take us back to 1525 and the Protestant Reformation in Zurich, Switzerland. The short answer is Mennonites are Christians, much like other Protestant Christians, who emphasize the following four things as they live out their Christian faith.
Following Jesus – We believe Jesus when he says that wise people build their lives on the rock, which he defined as “hearing these words of mine (Matthew 5:1 – 7:23) and putting them into practice.” (Matthew 7:24 – 27) We seek to follow him together as we read the Scriptures together, discern their meaning for us today by the Holy Spirit, and hold one another accountable as we live them out in community.
Serving others – In Mark 10:42 – 45 the Scriptures say, “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’.” In serving others – both inside and outside the church – we are following Jesus example and participating in the gospel.
Living Simply – In Deuteronomy 16, there is a story about God’s provision of food for the people of Israel. God provided meat in the evening and bread (manna) in the morning. The Israelites had only one rule – they could only gather what they needed for each person for that day (with an exception for the Sabbath). They could not horde the food, for it would spoil if they tried. A simple principle is reinforced in this story.
17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed
In a world filled with greed and inequality, we are committed to the counter-cultural practice of living simply (not having too much, nor too little) in order to practice generosity and radical hospitality.
Practicing peace – Jesus practiced peace. Jesus taught peace. Jesus called his followers to live lives of peace. Therefore we practice peace. We do this as an act of faith in Jesus as Lord. It doesn’t always make sense, especially to the modern American mind, and yet we believe Jesus was clear in his teaching and example. A part of practicing peace is non-violent resistance. We do not believe Jesus taught us to let evil have its way. We believe he taught us to overcome evil with good. This practice often catches people, who are new to our church, off guard. We’d be glad to talk further about this practice. As consistent with the practice of peace, we do not let differing views on this subject separate us from others or cause us to exclude others from the faith community.
These four practices challenge the basic wisdom of our age which teaches people to look out for number one, to find satisfaction in stuff, or to find safety and security in and through violence. We don’t believe that is what Jesus lived or taught. Therefore, we are intentional about the ways we live and practice our faith so that we swim upstream from the flow of our culture.
If you would like to know more about Metamora Mennonite Church, please explore the website. You can read our confession of faith here.