What does Mennonite Brethren theology have in common with that of other Christian denominations? And what are the distinctive emphases of Mennonite Brethren theology? Informed by Scripture, our Confession of Faith names the perspectives through which we read God’s Word in order to live as Christ’s followers. This series by the Board of Faith and Life explores the 18 articles of this formative document.
Could it be that in a world filled with conflict and with relational breakdown, our response to Jesus’ call to live as reconciled peacemakers may be one of the most powerful demonstrations of the power and truth of the good news of Jesus Christ?
To discover just how demanding is Jesus’ call to live as agents of reconciliation, we simply need to take his invitation seriously.
Once we begin praying together and trying to take steps in this direction, it becomes clear that peacemaking is all about activity and change. Any thought that living by love is passive falls away. We find ourselves engaged in a dimension of following Jesus that, both individually and as a community, touches our words, attitudes, and actions.
Without the reconciliation that God brings to our lives through the cross of Christ, we hold to our own particular views of what peace should look like. In other words, on our own, we all say that we want peace. The problem is that we are looking for peace on our own terms according to our own perspectives.
These perspectives become walls that keep us from turning to God whose faithful love in Christ and transforming work of the Spirit bring us to peace with God and with others. Claiming to be peacemakers, we falter in our efforts to move ahead without the Spirit’s guidance.
Instead, we must allow the truth of God’s good and hope-generating word in Christ to draw us to “let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts” (Colossians 3:15). Here, we yield control and recognize that our solutions, ideas, and plans are not enough to build peace if Christ is not at the centre of our lives.
Looking to Christ, we present ourselves – our act of faith renewed daily – believing that he will teach us to grow as agents of reconciliation.
In our churches throughout the MB family across Canada, we are constantly responding to God’s call to persevere in love, to forgive one another and to learn to speak the truth in love.
Our challenges and even conflicts are moments when, in the midst of our difficulties, we can discover in new ways the Spirit’s work in helping us to let Christ’s peace be at the centre of our lives. Experiencing this strengthens our faith, builds our hope, and renews our capacity to proclaim the message of reconciliation in Christ with power.
On the national level, commitment to peacemaking means listening to one another across regional divides, learning from one another in our contexts and stirring one another up to grow in love and faithfulness as we strive to do our part in the Spirit’s work throughout Canada.
Article 13 of our Confession of Faith carries the heading “Love and Nonresistance”. As we think about following Jesus in a world so profoundly marked by violence, we see that it is our vocation to love our enemies and to do good to those who reject and persecute us. Loving, doing good, alleviating suffering, reducing strife and promoting justice are all actions.
On every level, including matters of societal, national and international injustice, we are called to renounce the use of violence.
Reading the Bible carefully in a desire to follow Jesus faithfully as peacemakers in the world has led us to say “No” to violence, and “Yes” to our commitment to do alternate service in times of war. We do not resist evil in the same way as the world does.
The words of Article 13 challenge us to act as peacemakers, responding to the call of Jesus as individuals, as churches, and as a conference sent to show the truth and power of Christ in our world.
[David Miller was Quebec representative to the BFL from 2015 to February 2018. He gives pastoral leadership to Intersection, an MB congregation in Terrebonne, Quebec that includes a collaborative relationship with Be in Christ Church of Canada. David also teaches systematic and pastoral theology at ETEQ. David and Patricia are thankful to walk together and to serve together in Quebec.