After being associated with the Anabaptist for a little while now the question for me arises: What is the most apparent difference between my experience with the Protestant Church and the Anabaptist Church? Both the Protestants and Anabaptist claim to preach the Gospel of Jesus, but the effect that that message has had in the hearts of their hearers was, and is, totally different. I am sure that there are other reasons for this, but the one thing that stands out for me is this, How do we view ourselves in this world? Luther, after all of his great work, declared that he could not get enough true believers together to have a prayer meeting, yet the Anabaptist were giving their lives joyfully in large numbers. What I mean by this is, whether Pagan or Christian we are both in the world and have to deal with the facts as we see them, so how do real Christians deal with the facts of this life?
The important element for me is this continual Tension I experience. This tension is very upsetting for the common Christian and they tend to forget that they have this dual nature, “In the world but not of the world.” For the Christian who has received revelation this tension must not be suppressed or opposed, but for the others it is simply intolerable. We are in the world and from the world we cannot escape; our lives exist in this world and the world is a stumbling block so we must not become accustomed to it. It should be like a rock in our shoe, a constant reminder. In spite of our piety we all have a share in the sin of the world and the worst thing we can do is to remove the stone and forget who and what we are.
This natural and legitimate tension that exist between the Christian and the world should force the Christian to realize that he/she cannot improve the world, and at the same time we must refuse to do or say anything that will further the world’s disintegration. With all gravity and faith we must admit that we cannot do anything about it; we are pilgrims in the land of demons who’s lord is a ruthless Devil. For this reason we are caught between two necessary things: We cannot make this world less sinful; and on the other hand we can’t accept it as it is. To deny either is to deny the truth of our situation and God’s Grace. The true Christian life is therefore a scandal in the eyes of the world. This is not an abstract truth but spelled out on every page of the Bible, and it must be lived-out daily. The living-out of this life of tension and sacrifice, in the plain view of those trapped in darkness, is to pierce the veil and allow Light to stream into Satan’s world and to warm the frozen sod where a waiting seed can receives life.
And then, there is the world and the worldly Christian. This man does not have the ability to see the spiritual reality in which he struggles. He only sees the trash that floats to the surface, the social, political, and economic problems, and it is these which demand his attention. This is the course of most men and women, Christians included, and they are pulled deeper and deeper into the false and complicated situations that spell their doom. While Luther ran to the world and produced children through adultery with the state the Anabaptist ran away from the world and the seed of their mission fell to the ground and died and brought forth a hundred fold, which in its turn, produced a great harvest for God’s Kingdom.
All of nature reveals this truth, that through tension, suffering, trials, and death, life comes forth, and it is no different for the Christian. Through the joy of a tense and sorrowful life we produce fruit. The Kingdom is won not through preserving our lives but through sacrifice. The Great God has shown us the way to produce a good crop, so He bids us come and die.