I was born into a Mennonite family with lineages that go back many generations as Mennonites in Europe. I was raised in a Mennonite family and went to a Mennonite church all my life. I was taught in Mennonite schools by Mennonite teachers. I have been an ordained leader in the Mennonite Church for more than forty years. I am glad to be a Mennonite most of the time.
But I am more than Mennonite. ‘Mennoniting my way’ has been about discovering Jesus and the call to follow him each day with other followers of Jesus. Much of what shaped me also brought me to Jesus.
I have not held onto everything I received from my Mennonite heritage and culture, however. And some things I deeply appreciate are not of significant importance for following after Jesus. I recognize that every expression of faith takes on some cultural expression. Mennoniting is partly about discerning what is of Jesus and what is of culture.
In the last few years I have reflected on my identity at many levels. I love my family of origin—it reflects a rich variety of colors and faith expressions. I am very comfortable and at home as a Mennonite, but sometimes its fragrance is so varied that I wonder if it comes from the same tree. Being Christians is even less cohesive and clear for me. The leaves and fruits of its trees are so confusing that at times I feel sad and ashamed to be associated with it.
Much of my journey has been shaped by right beliefs and prescribed practices. These have helped to bring me to Christ. In recent years following Jesus is not so much about having the right beliefs as about observing the way of Jesus, listening to his Spirit, and living in obedience. Living in a heritage so broken and splintered by differences of both belief and practice, I am compelled to seek unity and peace in the bond that is in Christ, who is our peace.
My deep longing is to be at peace and at home with God. This has been found in following Jesus who calls me to unity and peace in his body, the church, to love even my enemies and to care for the good earth where God has placed me.
‘Mennoniting my way’ has helped me find the way to Jesus, to unity in the Spirit, and peace in the fellowship of all who follow Jesus. It is bringing others with me to Jesus who enables us to be at peace with God, to live in peace with each other, and to peacefully love the earth on which we live together.
Next week, Ubaldo Rodriguez, pastor of New Hope Fellowship/Nueva Esperanza (Baltimore, Md.), will reflect on Mennoniting on the river and the pond. How do you “Mennonite”? Join the conversation on Facebook & Twitter (#fmclife) or by email.
Who am I? (To Mennonite Blog #1)
Serving Christ with our heads and hands (To Mennonite Blog #2)
Quiet rebellion against the status quo (To Mennonite Blog #3)
Mennoniting my way (To Mennonite Blog #4)
Generations Mennoniting together (To Mennonite Blog #5)
Body, mind, heart … and feet (To Mennonite Blog #6)
We have much more to offer (To Mennonite Blog #7)
Mennonite community … and community that Mennonites (To Mennonite Blog #8)