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Menno Simons – Legacy

by on May 31, 2013

Menno’s legacy

Most of us want to leave something to our posterity. What will it be? Will it be only tangible things? “Things that are seen,” the Bible calls them? Or will it be unseen things? Things that moth and rust do not corrupt. Things which cannot be stolen. What legacy has Menno left for posterity? He left many writings now collected in one book called the Complete Writings of Menno Simons. His writings are direct and met the needs of the common believer at the time. He dealt with pressing issues.  He wrote for unity and against error. Many of his writings are still instructive for us today.

His legacy also includes the Anabaptist/Mennonite Church. You are part of his legacy and you have inherited this treasure. Besides that, the Mennonite Church, as a whole, has impacted the world far beyond what its numbers would indicate. How has the Mennonite Church and the Anabaptist movement impacted the world?

We have been busy sending people and aid to areas devastated by war and natural disaster. In a more ideological sense, W.W.Sweet says, in his book The American Churches (p.15). “All the great concepts for which American democracy stands today: individual rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, self-government, and complete religious liberty, are concepts coming out of the left-wing phase of the Reformation.” According to Sweet, the freedoms of today’s western cultures were not won by armies; they were bought by the blood of the Anabaptist martyrs who died rather than fought for what they believed to be right. Neither the Catholics nor the reformers valued those freedoms for the individual. Neither Catholics nor reformers offered those freedoms to their people. But, today those freedoms are taken for granted by the entire western world.

However, Menno’s greatest legacy is simply his example of faith: his trust in Scripture and the God of the Scripture, his conviction and commitment that the Bible is the Word of God and that it means what it says. His life illustrates what God can do with someone who whole-heartedly gives self and life to God and trusts God to use that life to build His kingdom.

The question for us, of course, is what are we doing with that legacy? What is our character? How are we dealing with the difficulties of our times? Are we able to sort out the many voices? Are we sensitive to the harmful ideologies? Are we willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience for higher callings of serving God and His flock?  I trust that, as Menno, we will be men and women of character – that we will be true to the convictions that God gives us. But, most of all, that we will be people of the Word of God – the Bible -that we will read it and study it and hide it in our hearts so that it will bring forth fruit in our lives. Menno said, “True evangelical faith feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, comforts the fatherless….” It is a practical faith. It is a faith that works. I trust that it is your faith and your character today.

The purpose of this message has not been to eulogize a human being. But, it has been to illustrate that God’s kingdom is built upon confessors and not only upon confessions, or perhaps more properly – it is built upon confessors who make confessions “living stones”, the Apostle Peter calls them. I trust that the example of Menno will encourage you in that calling.

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