|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Great thoughts from great Christians”
Our Bible verse for today: “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Relax, and trust in God’s grace”
A friend of mine is currently having a building constructed on his property by Mennonite builders. The other day he commented to me about how much he enjoys having them work for him. He said that not only are they nice people, but they are good craftsmen and their work ethic is commendable – they show up when they say they will and they work hard until they are done.
That led us into a discussion about the differences between the Amish and the Mennonites. The Amish are skilled craftsmen, hard workers, and nice people too, but they have extreme views regarding their lifestyle and the use of modern conveniences. While there are some similarities between the Amish and the Mennonites, there are significant differences too. The major difference stems from an important theological truth – the concept of grace.
Both the Amish and the Mennonites trace their heritage back to the early Anabaptist leader Menno Simons. He was a Catholic priest in the early-to-mid 1500s in the Netherlands. Simons objected to the materialism and the excesses of the Catholic leaders, and he disagreed with the concept of infant baptism. He also rejected the rituals, practices, and endless rules created by the Catholic leadership which went far beyond what the Bible itself taught.
Simons ended up breaking away from the Catholic church and became part of the early Protestant Reformation. He taught his followers to adopt a simple lifestyle of leading an honest and quiet life, honoring God, blessing others – and learning to live by grace. He wrote, “Your mercies are greater than all our works. Who, dear Lord, ever came to You with a pious heart and was rejected? Who ever sought You and found you not? … Who ever prayed for Your grace and did not receive it?” Living by grace, not religious rituals and stern regulations, was the key.
Unfortunately, by the late 1600s a schism developed among the followers of Menno Simons. One group, under the leadership of a man named Jacob Amman, believed strict rules and a spartan lifestyle were necessary in order to please God. The other group rejected such notions and adhered to the original teachings of living simply and by grace. Eventually the division between the groups became so severe and irreconcilable that they split. One group followed Amman and became the Amish, the others continued to follow the teaching of Menno Simons and called themselves Mennonites.
Without disparaging the Amish in any way, I agree with Menno’s understanding of a simple life lived by grace. We don’t earn God’s favor through the observance of a severe lifestyle and rejecting all modern conveniences. Instead, we are saved by grace, and we please Him by loving Him. So, relax and trust in God’s grace.
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