Why I Became Mennonite, Jorge E Vielman, April 1999 (United States)
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To define why I am a Mennonite I have to go back many years and think why I became a Christian in the first place. I became a Christian because I learned about Jesus love, and how his grace had granted me salvation. It was not until I was introduced to Mennonite faith that I understood what salvation really was; I learned that salvation is a way of life, a life of obedience and service, service not only to God but also to my fellow humans. Mennonite philosophy was part of me even when I did not know about Mennonites, I was opposed to war, injustice and corruption. Being a Mennonite to me is to live a simple life, not a life of need where I have to strip myself of everything I posses, but a life in which I can share what little I have with those that need it, and do it with love. For example, Jesus makes one of the strongest linkages between faith and supplying of basic physical needs to others in a direct way. This he says, is an expression of love and true faith.
"14 Although heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the LORD your God, the earth with all that is in it, 15 yet the LORD set his heart in love on your ancestors alone and chose you, their descendants after them, out of all the peoples, as it is today. 16 circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lord, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 you shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 you shall fear the LORD your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen." Deut.10: 14-21
Love is important, God loved us so much that he sacrificed his own son for humanity. Jesus asks from us to love our neighbor not more than we love ourselves but as much as we love our own being. It is for me important to recognize that to love others and help others I have to feel good about myself. I know for a fact I am not worthy but I am worthful and God showed me by choosing me to become a child of his. Being a Mennonite to me is having a humble spirit and recognize that I am not self sufficient, that I need God's grace to live each day and make the most of it. Being a Mennonite is to spouse pacifism, opposition to war and other violence expressed either in an organized political movement or as an individual ideology. Being a Mennonite is to advocate for justice and equality for all. God created us and he made us all equal; he made no class or gender distinction and his grace and blessings are meant for all. Being a Mennonite is to advocate for the oppressed to identify with them and show them that someone cares. Being a Mennonite means to love the sinner but hate the sin. We cannot avoid people that are not living in obedience because if we do who is going to bring them to the right path so they are able to restitute themselves to the body of Christ. We as Christians and members of the same body should be of help and support of those who fall. Avoidance can only stand on the way of restitution of sin. We need support and encouragement from others because we belong to a community. Being a Mennonite also means to belong to a community of faith in which love, care, and compassion are practiced. We recognize that as humans we are not absolute that we need the help and support of others, and also as individuals we should use our knowledge and skills for the well being of others. If we do not recognize that in the faith community we all poses gifts which complement each other we are calling for failure as Christians because we belong to a community where all our gifts need to be used. The gifts of the spirit empower me to live and minister in God's way. The spirit pursue to bring us closer to God by teaching us, guiding us reminding us of Jesus word, empowering us to speak that word, and calling us to repentance. I believe that the Holy Spirit will continue to be active in us through all time. I can count on the spirit to comfort us when we suffer, but also be present with us when persecution comes, help us live in Christian Community, and ever so many other ways.
This essay was completed for an Anabaptist/Mennonite History class at Goshen College in April 1999.