Sunday, November 20, 2011
MENNO SIMONS ON NON-VIOLENCE
If Christ fights his enemies with the sword of his mouth, if he smites the earth with the rod of his mouth, and slay the wicked with the breath of his lips; and if we are to be conformed unto his image, how can we, then, fight our enemies with any other sword? Does not the apostle Peter say, "For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: sho did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously?" 1 Pet. 2:21-23; Matt. 16:24. This accords with the words of John who says, That he that abides in Christ, walks as Christ walked. Christ himself says, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23. Again, "My sheep hear my voice .... and they follow me," Jn. 10:27. And this is the voice of Christ, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
Again, Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. [pp. 435-436]
O, beloved reader, our weapons are not swords and spears, but patience, silence and hope, and the word of God. With these we must maintain our cause and defend it. Paul says, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal; but mighty through God." With these we intend and desire to resist the kingdom of the devil; and not with swords, spears, cannons and coats of mail.
True christians know not vengeance, no matter how they are maltreated; in patience they possess their souls, Luke 21:18; and do not break their peace, even, if they should be tempted by bondage, torture, poverty, and, besides, by the sword and fire. They do not cry for vengeance as do the world; but, with Christ, they supplicate and pray: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60.
According to the declaration of the prophet, they have beaten their swords into
plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks. [p. 307]
NOTE: All excerpts are from The complete works of Menno Simon (Elkhart, Ind., 1871).