I value my heritage too little, I think, and other times I think I value it too much. I have too little appreciation, too little knowledge, even, of the trail marked out for me to follow. Perhaps it backfired- they made the road to easy- or perhaps they simply did not expect a day when Christianity had so little opposition. One is unlikely to prepare for what one does not expect.
I think, sometimes, of those hero martyrs gone before. I think of the scores of men and women who died for their faith and I am ashamed of how little I do think of them. They who died for that which I take for granted. The heroes, the cloud of witnesses, do they not deserve our utmost respect. Should not we hold them up as heroes just as the African Americans do Martin Luther King Jr. and the baseball players Babe Ruth?
But we don’t. Too often we do not even know their names, much less their stories. Do they not deserve more?
And then at times I think we value our heritage too much. It becomes our identity to be an Anabaptist instead of being a follower of Jesus. We care more about what church someone is from than we do about whether they’re excited about Jesus. We spend more time discussing geneologies than we do about what God has been doing for them.
There is a dichotomy in our story. We have developed a culture of being “the quiet in the land” but our heritage is one of heretics and law breakers. We are followers of Jesus. We are also Anabaptist. They are labels we wear. They set a standard do us to follow. But even here, the pathway is vague. Rocky. Ridden with side paths and detours. We must choose beyond these labels. What kind of Anabaptist will you be. Are you, like Conrad Grebel and Felix Manx, revolutionary in your thinking, daring to think beyond what you are taught, daring to go farther than your teacher or will you choose to be the quiet in the land. Peaceful farmers who mind their own business.
We have a heritage, we have a culture. I believe our culture was born of our heritage but I also believe we have gone too far. Our country has gone too far. Our churches have gone too far.
We can no longer, in good conscience, be the quiet in the land. God has called us to higher paths. It’s time to reclaim our heritage.
We lose the things we do not appreciate. We make the mistakes of our ancestors when we no longer tell their stories. We lose too much, my friends, when it no longer seems important.
Am I a follower of Jesus? Am I an Anabaptist? Can I be both? Perhaps it’s time to take an honest look, to be sure that the things I think are Anabaptist really are Anabaptist. Is my culture Anabaptist or is it simply an accumulation of traditions? What does it really mean to be a follower of Jesus and am I willing to be one of His.