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Menno Simons – Cross

by on May 29, 2013

His Cross

The difficulties that Menno faced stagger the mind. The Anabaptist movement into which Menno was adopted and which he inherited was literally self-destructing. Some of them were actually taking the sword in an attempt to bring about the kingdom of God on earth. Along with this were cases of polygamy and other irregularities particularly in the city of Munster, Germany.  Munster eventually (after about one year) had to be seiged and invaded by civil and religious forces. Menno wrote a scathing rebuke of the kinds of behaviors displayed in Munster. This “Munster incident,” as it is known, further galvanized the surrounding community against the Anabaptists. Menno had to overcome the tendency of religious extremists who wanted to distort and destroy something that God had planned for good.

Menno became homeless. He had a family to feed and clothe and they were at times homeless. His homelessness was also a concern for others. At least one man was executed because he had sheltered the homeless Menno.

And then there was the issue of money. How does one live without money to exchange for needs of body and soul? He was at the disposal of the community. Unlike the well-supported Martin Luther or Ulrich Zwingli, Menno had chosen a path of poverty over a comfortable life of opulent ease.

The Catholics, of course, were not happy with his choice. In fact, the Catholic emperor, Charles V, issued an edict against Menno. The edict said in part,

Menno Symonss, formerly pastor at Witmarsum in Friesland, being polluted with Anabaptism and other false teachings, had departed and has returned to our land…at night and other times and diverse places to seduce by false teachings the simple people and to lead them away from the faith and unity of the holy Church. …not to receive Minne into house or property or give shelter or food or drink or favor or help or speak to him or to have his books on penalty of life and property.  Any subject is authorized to apprehend Minne and send him captive to our court and they shall be paid 100 guilders plus expenses.

Anabaptists, also, were encouraged to betray Menno.

The reformers did not count Menno among themselves. Calvin called Menno a dumb ass. Luther wrote an essay against Anabaptists. The reformers, along with the Catholics, continued to persecute and martyr people in the Anabaptist community of which Menno was now a part.

Chief among Menno’s concerns was the new group of Anabaptist believers. He accepted the call to shepherd the fledgling flock. As shepherd he traveled and preached. He wrote volumes on many subjects to help their understanding and to prevent more wayward activity.

Foundational in his life was his commitment to Christ and the Scriptures. His “life verse’ was I Cor. 3:11

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

His Complete Writings contain a lengthy meditation on the 25th Psalm. The scriptures had also become his shelter. He says, “I am being loaded down behind my back with slanders and lies…I am called by many …a deceiving heretic.”  He then goes on to quote, “Unto thee O Lord do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed.” This 20 page meditation on Psalm 25 is in the form of prayer.

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