Theological statements on peacemaking should be supported by our actions
by Connie Faber, CL editor
When U.S. Mennonite Brethren gather for the National Convention in the San Francisco Bay area later this month, we will vote on a recommendation to revise Article 13 of our Confession of Faith. The Board of Faith and Life (BFL) is asking that we affirm a new statement regarding “Love, Peacemaking and Reconciliation,” the title recommended for the article that is currently called “Love and Nonresistance.”
Since January 2013, BFL has provided numerous opportunities for input, feedback and counsel and has tested several drafts of Article 13 with us. Assuming we have spoken well and BFL has listened well, this recommendation should have the support it needs to pass. But as with many decisions, it’s unlikely that all of us will be 100 percent happy—and that means we will have the opportunity to practice our commitment to living at peace with one another, including those in our family of faith with whom we disagree. We are all aware that many times church conflicts are among the most painful; so this could test our ability to live out our Confession. The words in a document, even words chosen carefully and prayerfully, are meaningless if we don’t mirror them with our actions.
“No matter what words we use to state our commitment to living as disciples of Jesus Christ who pursue peace and reconciliation, what really matters is how we live our lives,” writes BFL in the board’s October 2013 open letter. “In Article 12 we have agreed that our kingdom citizenship takes priority over all other loyalties. In view of Article 12, we now need to find ways to implement the principles of Article 13. We understand that simply changing the wording to our Confession of Faith alone will yield minimal results in how we live.”
The letter goes on to say that the national BFL will be working with district BFLs to “strengthen our understanding of and commitment to conflict resolution …. We believe that these efforts will result in an outcome that allows us to have integrity in our pursuit of the biblical ideal of peacemaking and will give us the opportunity to grow in unity toward a vibrant peace witness in our homes, churches, communities and in the world.”
As we prepare for the USMB National Convention, we must take seriously the responsibility of thinking carefully about our theological statement on peacemaking. And more importantly, we must commit to being peacemakers every day by our actions and not just our words.
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