Dave Black has published the sixth part of his series on the Anabaptists: “What I Have Learned from the Anabaptists (Part 6)“. These articles are getting better and better, and they motivate me to want to learn more about the Anabaptists. This article concerns the Anabaptists’ views of the Great Commission. He says:
In speaking of the missionary heart of the Anabaptists my highest hope is that it might help us to implement biblical principles in our own lives and fellowships. I believe that if we are open to a fresh leading of the Holy Spirit, at whatever cost to our present way of living, we cannot help but become more missional in the way we think and act. The purpose of the Anabaptist movement was more than to recall Christians to their biblical roots. At every point the Anabaptists sought to correct the notion of their contemporaries that the Great Commission had been fulfilled by Christâ€™s original apostles. It was this emphasis that explains the contempt, and even disgust, that some of the magisterial Reformers felt for the missionary program of the Dissenters.
Our own situation is much like that of the erudite Anabaptists. Today we have to strip off the false notion that missions is only for professionals. Jesus is asking His followers today to take seriously not just the gathering but the going forth. What we must learn to say to the world is: â€œHere we are. We are willing to make any sacrifice to see that you know Jesus. We are not asking you to come to church with us. We love you right where you are. We love you no matter what you do to us. If we have to build a hut next to you for the rest of time just to witness to the love and grace of the Lord Jesus, we are going to make that effort. Weâ€™re not going to take you out of your environment or make you a part of an institution just to keep the institution going.â€
I love this last part. Are we willing to go where unbelievers are, not just to hit and run, but live among them? This is true missional living… and I would say, this is true “follower of Christ” living.
Beyond the discussion of the Anabaptists’ view of the Great Commission, Dave also discusses the Anabaptists’ view of the church. Why? Because what we think about the church will affect what we think about the Great Commission. So, what did the Anabaptists think about the church:
For the Anabaptists, the church meant a great deal. It was a community consisting of those who had a vital relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior. It was the brotherhood of the redeemed, purchased by Christâ€™s spilled blood. It was the fellowship of the regenerated who as â€œliving stonesâ€ were being built up into a holy temple. It was the body of Christ-centered sharing where each bore the otherâ€™s burdens and thus fulfilled the law of Christ. The church was all of this to the Anabaptists. But it was much more than this. The church was the community of those who not only worshiped God and learned of Christ but who witnessed and served, proclaiming in word and deed the Lord Jesus Christ and His full and free salvation to anyone who would listen. For the Anabaptists the biblical church was a Great Commission church â€“ witnessing, evangelizing, and ministering in love both to each other and to the outside world. For them the whole of life was to be one of service and sacrifice.
I love this description of the church. I don’t think I’ve read enough about and by the Anabaptists. How about you?