The apostle John the beloved in his first epistle makes a simple appeal at the end of his treatise: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
“You are what you eat.” This old saying is true to a degree in the physical realm—our diet affects our health. It is true to a greater degree on a spiritual level. What we feed on, whether the Word of God or the trash of the world, impacts our spiritual health.
Change one word of this saying, and we have another truth that is borne out in Scripture. “You are what you see.”
Tradition has a grasp on everyone. No one can escape the impact of the tradition in which he was raised. Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It would therefore seem erroneous to toss about the idea that I can choose to live without the impact of tradition on my life. No matter what order of tradition I am born into, it will impact my life either for bane or for blessing.
Pacifism and its influence on the Mennonite church
In conservative Mennonite circles, one sometimes grapples with this question: Why should nonresistant people be interested in the teaching of war and related issues, especially in the classroom? Several reasons could be given; one in particular, though, stands out, and that is because wars have a profound influence on society. Wars change the status quo, and that seems to be just as relevant in general society as it is in the Mennonite church.
Building altars is probably not a task we would choose, but the Bible gives many accounts where God commanded the building of altars, or where men voluntarily built them.
The first occasion is found in Genesis 8:20, after Noah and his family and all the creatures in the ark came out onto dry ground. Noah built an altar unto the Lord and offered burnt offerings, and the Lord smelled a sweet savor.
It may seem strange to think of “the last miles” as we start a new year. We usually think of last miles being at the end of a hard journey. Those miles are the ones that are the hardest to endure and stay awake for. Maybe it is unusual to talk of these at this time. We could be talking of new beginnings, resolutions, and new goals. This would not be completely inappropriate. But we are in unusual times. Even a casual observer of current events, with only a small understanding of the Word, can see that we are walking the last miles.
At first glance, one could suggest that these two terms might be synonymous. In fact, one hundred years ago they sometimes were used interchangeably.1 but as the English language continues its evolutionary process, it becomes necessary to define these terms separately.
What is nonresistance?
The term nonresistance is taken from Matthew 5:39, where Jesus tells us to “resist not evil.” It is not resisting in any form, militarily or personally. It means showing genuine love to all, friend or foe.
Years ago, a Mennonite preacher was flying on a mission trip. Around him the passengers were joking and laughing, when suddenly the jet encountered a violent storm. The plane bucked wildly. Lightning cracked against the wings. Terrified passengers cried out to God. “God, if you get me out of this, I promise I’ll serve you the rest of my life.”
On December 21, 1620, a small band of Pilgrims landed on the shore of what is now Massachusetts. It was wintertime, and they had little food and no houses. more than half of the group died in that first terrible winter.
We as an older generation are passing off the scene. We sense that we have been blessed above measure. We have been given a priceless heritage of seeing the New Testament as a book to be lived out in everyday life because of our love for the Lord Jesus. We have no greater joy than to see that vision embraced by younger ones coming on.