You’re a Naked What? Some Thoughts on Why I’m an Anabaptist

 

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I almost didn’t start a blog. I love writing and I love community, but blogging? Not so much. Several years ago, my attitude towards the whole blogging world was very hostile. So much so, that when a good friend suggested I start a blog after we sat for a while to discern God’s desire to use my love of writing for the Kingdom— I nodded politely and then told my husband that evening, “He is crazy, if he thinks I should start a blog”. To which my husband said, “Babes, I agree with him you need to blog.”

 

Because I love my husband and trusted this friend, I decided to devote some time to praying, imagining and sitting with God to turn the idea of a blog around and around in my spirit. From the little I knew of blogging, I believed it to be the worst place to process deep feelings and make authentic connection. From watching my husband blog for years, I saw the worst of people come out in full force with name-calling and pontificating aplenty. Then I found out about this phenomenon of “trolls” (people who comment on blogs just to annoy and sometimes attack the writer just for the fun of it) and like every good girl who read the Brothers Grimm before bed, I avoided trolls and their lairs at all cost! I was sure blogging was not the outlet for me

 

At the same time, I had so many questions about my faith and my identity as a woman, about motherhood and marriage, about calling and suffering and I found some blogs that spoke clarity to my uncertainty and invited me to find a home in their online community. This evidence that the Holy Spirit can do something beautiful with the blogging world convinced me to start a blog in 2011.

 

One of the first major series I wrote for my blog was a four part series, unpacking my frustration with the conversation around “biblical womanhood”. I felt pulled between two camps: the camp of women who are more conservative and take a complementarian view of womanhood or the more progressive camp of women who hold an egalitarian view of marriage and tend to have a more diversity of thought and theology in their camp. I named this series, “Third Way Womanhood” because deep down I knew there had to be a middle ground, a third way to walk out my womanhood that didn’t rally around positions as much as the Person of Christ. A way to think about my femininity in a way that identifies myself as Kingdom women first and foremost. I wanted to be encouraged to embody Jesus’ example and reflect the love of God in barrier-breaking, sacrificial, pride-killing ways in my mothering and marriage. I wanted walk in a way that daily challenges me to actively rejects the allure to fight against women with differing perspectives than me in order to fight unified and powerful against injustice in the world.

 

In short, I wanted a Third Way to live out my womanhood that reflected my Anabaptist convictions.

 

As many of you know, I’ve referred to myself as an Anabaptist or Neo-Anabaptist. If I’m feeling cheeky, I’ll call myself a Naked Anabaptist in homage to a book that help shape my convictions, “The Naked Anabaptist” by Stuart Murray.

 

But, the question I often get is, “What does that mean?”

 

Today, I’m joining my fellow Mennonerds in a Synchro-blog for the month of May to unpack the distinctives of Anabaptist thought that are central to our expression of our faith, so brilliantly defined by Tyler Tully.

 

The three distinctives are:

  1. Jesus Centered- Jesus stands as the lens by which Anabaptists read the entire Bible, and the exemplary by which we engage all theology.

 

  1. Free Church of Confessing, Baptized Disciples – For the Anabaptist, community is essential to follow Jesus–and this practice often places us at odds with the Church-State. Salvation is realized through community, but so is sin.

 

 

  1. Agents of God’s Shalom – Anabaptists are pacifists committed to non-violence, but not only do we want an absence of war but also a presence of Shalom, justice and harmony.

 

Like my desire to live out my Anabaptist convictions in my expression of womanhood, I want this space I’m carving out on the internet, to be framed by these distinctives.

 

1: I want this blog to be all Jesus, all the time. Jesus is my favorite. I’ve loved him for over half of my life and I just can’t help but write about Jesus. My first memory of really loving Jesus was at a youth camp; I was sitting on the first row in my favorite blue and white gingham dress listening to a charismatic youth speaker teach on Jesus’ defense of the woman caught in the act of adultery. This wasn’t my first time hearing this story, mind you; I became a Christian at five. By this point, I heard that story preach both in Sunday School, Sunday service, and youth group. The speaker didn’t have a new take on the passage or some dramatic human video to tug at my heartstring. No, I just realized how much Jesus is unbelievable crazy in love with us. I recognized Jesus’ dauntless act of protection of a defenseless woman. I felt the conviction of “he who has not sinned cast the first stone” and I felt the forgiveness of “go and sin no more”. His counter-cultural choice to speak to a woman as if she mattered in a highly patriarchal society wasn’t lost on fourteen year old me. For all those reasons and more, I fell head over heels in love with Jesus. So, for me reading the Bible without seeing how it all points to Jesus, it’s a non-starter— I simply can’t do it. Jesus is my favorite. For all time. He’s the ultimate.

 

2:   I want this place to be a place where we work out our salvation in community, with civility, mindful of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom ruled by the Prince of Peace. We are Kingdom first, American, Gay, Straight, Calvinist, Reformed, Arminian, Baptist, Presbyterian, Woman, Mom, Wife…whatever…second. On this blog, I want us to respect each other’s differing perspectives because we respect our King Jesus and we love each other more than our positions. I want us to check out fingers with humility and kindness before typing away in the comment section. I want us to shower each other with a love that makes the seeking readers stop and wonder, “what do they have that I don’t and how can I get down with that”. It’s Jesus, y’all and he’s so beautiful, and his Spirit so empowers us to do this and we ‘aint got time for drama and backbiting because…

 

3: We are agents of shalom, my friends. Agents. Of. Shalom! We’ve got work to do. Brokenness to set our hands to. Lonely wanderers to invite to our tables. Prisoners to set free. Conflicts that requires peacemakers. The world needs us, Kingdom People to embody the justice work of Jesus. We need more believers lending their voices to the silenced. We need to take stock of our resources and ask how to share it with those in poverty. The world agents of reconciliation, of all kinds. For me, racial reconciliation has captured my heart for I dream of a Church that diverse and undivided. That’s why every so often, I’ll write about race and raising mixed children or my interracial marriage. Reconciliation is the work of the reconciled. The people of God. The ones who have been redeemed and restored into the family of God.  It starts with us, taking our call as agents of Shalom very seriously. So here on this blog, I hope to encourage you to that end and to find your shalom right in your context. For me, it’s more urban core related, but shalom is needed everywhere. If we are to usher in God’ peace in the midst of this world caught in the crossfire of a spiritual battle we must become Agents of Shalom.

 

I’m an Anabaptist and I’m incredibly thankful for this community of believers that challenge me everyday to live like Jesus. He’s the best. My absolute favorite and I hope my words do him proud.

 

Seeking Shalom and Proud to be Mennonerd,

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One thought on “You’re a Naked What? Some Thoughts on Why I’m an Anabaptist

  1. Thank you Osheta – I am not Anabaptist but am full of deep esteem and want to explore it; I will look up the book you mention.

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