A common concept in Anabaptist history is Gelassenheit. This word is typically translated into English as yieldedness. Its actual definition is far more involved.
What are some elements of Gelassenheit as evidenced in the Christian life?
Gelassenheit in a life is characterized by:
Total peace with relationship with God
Total submission to God and His Holy Spirit
A heart that is content with life
An unoffendable spirit
Following the example of Christ
Peace and resignation in suffering
Total reliance on the Holy Spirit
Total trust in the Scripture
Absolute confidence in God’s control of all things
Absolute confidence in trial and in death
Fearless when confronted and falsely accused
Unmovable when standing for the truth of God
Not doubting the truth of God
Not distracted by temptation and sin
Believing that truth is immortal –while earthly life is mortal
Having Godly discernment of spirits
Having a Biblical perspective on all issues
Having a heart for God
Believing and living and knowing that all is well with your soul
Trusting in the sufficiency of God
Faith that does not doubt
Love of God that meets people where they are
Living a life of following Jesus Christ
Not seeking things that are not Godly
Not tempted by worldly lusts
Gelassenheit is not:
Submission to religious authority that is not Godly.
To allow people to continue in sin without scriptural confrontation.
To excuse one’s behavior.
The essence of gelassenheit is contentment and confidence. Persons living in
Spiritual gelassenheit have peace of heart and quietness of spirit. The living God is living in them and they are so fulfilled that they are not looking for something to fill the voids because God has filled them. They are not attracted to and by sinful lusts because they have died to self and to sin. Their life is on the altar of God for His use. What ever God brings into their lives, they accept with gracious thankfulness. They focus on what is eternal, not on what is temporal.
That said, they are not persuaded by manipulation. Spiritual discernment and wisdom fill their lives and they try the spirits to see if they are of God or not. They are not threatened by loss of position or life. They will confront sin because sin is so destructive to the Kingdom of God. They have clarity about what is good and what is not.
These principles impact all of their relationships with other persons.
I had a recent discussion about Gelassenheit with some German friends. The German Grandmother was holding her new baby grand-daughter while listening to the conservation. She said, “This is gelassenheit.” There was nothing in the whole world that she would rather be doing than sitting peacefully holding her new, beautiful, sleeping, little grand-daughter.
For Christians experiencing gelassenheit, that is the perfect picture. There is nothing we would rather be doing than serving our Lord in the capacity in which He has called us and gifted us. What ever the cost, that is what we will do and we will do it with joy.
Gelassenheit is the absolute peace of heart experienced by a Christian living for God. You are not searching. You are not seeking. You are not anxious. In life and in death you are in peace. In stress and in trouble you are at peace. Take no thought for tomorrow is the watchword of gelassenheit.
Gelassenheit took the martyrs to death singing and preaching. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. May that peace and contentment of heart be your portion. May that peace carry you through these difficult days. May you experience the fullness of heart found only in serving the living God. May you not be distracted by the poison and politics around you.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
Will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true,
Whatever things are noble,
Whatever things are just,
Whatever things are pure,
Whatever things are lovely,
Whatever things are of good report,
If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—
Meditate on these things.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do,
And the God of peace will be with you.