How do we live out our peace witness?

It seems that a few posts have dealt with our Anabaptist identity, specifically regarding peacemaking. So I want in.

I know of a Mennonite church that’s had a lot of problems in the past decade. They’ve split in ’99, fired their pastor in ’02, and now their next pastor is resigning because he feels he can’t contend with the warring factions in the church.

Now, clearly, they have some militant members who see “winning” as the ultimate goal. They seem to want the church to be modeled after them. That’s a problem that’s reared its head every time the church has split or lost its pastor.

But more concerning is the people who believe in peacemaking, yet have expressed their belief by turning a blind eye to the problems, hoping they’ll go away. That is not peace; it is denial. And it’s sad to see our peace witness lived out in such a way. Jesus taught a “third way” of overcoming hostility, not fight or flight but attacking the problem (not the person) head-on. He taught that we shouldn’t use violence, but we should work to expose evil, even when it resides inside of ourselves.

So I want to be part of a new vision for peace. Too often I’ve been one to stand by quietly, fearful of stirring the waters. So I want to change that. Our new vision needs to shun militancy and passivism. We don’t want to destroy our church to win, nor should we sweep problems under the rug. We need the “third way” of peacemaking within our Mennonite churches, so we can tell the world with confidence that peacemaking works.

Comment (1)

  1. benjaminjanderson

    You made a very good point about peacemaking. It is interesting that there is a very big difference between being pacifist and non-violent. When one is passive they do nothing whereas when one is a non-violent peacemaker he does something about the situation but what he does is not violent. It seems that most Mennonites either believe in non-violence and yet are militant but in a non-physical way (i.e. they fight a lot over issues in the church) or they are pacifist when something goes wrong they do nothing and turn a blind eye. Neither of those ways are what Jesus exemplified He was not a pacifist He did something but what He did was not violent it was peaceful.

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