Last week, I enjoyed reading an article about Anabaptists and writing about that article in my post “Which Distinctive Practices and Beliefs of Anabaptists are Important for the Church Today?” Then, it seems that you (my readers) enjoyed the post and the distinctives as well – even in the points that you disagreed.
Reading that article, writing the posts, and following the discussion in the comments reminded me of a great book that I read online last year called “The Secret of the Strength.” One of the things that I love about that book is that the author (Peter Hoover) includes many, many quotations from the Anabaptists themselves.
For the next few days, I’m going to post a few of those quotations. You may not agree with everything they wrote, but hopefully they will help us thinking about our new life in Jesus Christ.
The first quotation was written by Wolfgang Brandhuber just before he was executed (Sendbrief an die Gemeinde Gottes, 1529):
If we want to be one with God, we need to be one with his will (Christ Jesus). That happens when we tell him about our great needs and when we tell him that we love him. If we love him we keep his commandments because love—if it is love—comes from the heart. How could true love be anything but from the heart? And love continually seeks love, like the bride in Solomon’s song who can sing and speak of nothing else.
True Christianity works on nothing but love. It needs no law because it fulfills the commands of God out of pure love and exercises itself in this day and night. It leaves everything earthly behind. It despises everything earthly to the pit, and asks: “Why bother with that?” It seeks because it loves. The more it loves the more it seeks to be loved—engaging itself to the Beloved One and peering out through the lattice work to watch him come from afar.
For so many, love does not seem to be enough. So, rules and procedures are put in place to make certain that everything happens as it should and everyone acts as they should. But, in reality, people cannot obey God apart from love. You would think that we would have learned from the examples we read about in the Old Testament that we cannot make ourselves obey God, even when we really want to.
Love is enough. In fact, love is all we have – love produced by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as we submit to him. Through that love, we can now obey. And, if we are not obeying, the problem is not with our lack of action or even with wrong action. The problem is with love. We do not try harder or give God more or be excellent. We confess, submit, and trust in his love.
We can do many things without love. But, we cannot obey God without love. And, if we find that we are not obeying God – not following Jesus Christ – then we have stopped responding to and responding in the love of God.
Is love enough? Do you agree with Brandhuber that “true Christianity works on nothing but love”? How can we tell the difference between obeying out of love and obeying out of other motives or intentions? If God’s love is all we need, why are there so many commands in Scripture?