What does it mean to be Brethren? Why am I here? A bit of personal testimony and A bit about the Brethren.
There are some bits ofthe story are from here HartvilleChurch of the Brethren
And some bits happened along the way Is there a God? How do I be good? Hey! I am a Christian! This is fun! How do I live an honorable life amidst temptation? What kind of a Christian am I going to be? Am I good enough for God? What about the 144,000?
Some maturing bits Do I measure up? Am I honoring my wife? Am I being a good role model to my kids? Am I living up to my father- in-law’s expectation? Can I ever compare to my brother-in-law? Should I? And even on occasion: What if I’m wrong about all this whole God thing?
Eventually a I got a bit of assurance Eventually I learned some key lessons as my knowledge of the Bible grew. The most important is that salvation is not a matter of being good enough, doing enough or praying enough. I’m not enough, but God is. That ties into another lesson: God wants us to be at peace. Life isn’t supposed to be a painful struggle. “Don’t worry be happy” is trite, but the message is clear, “God has called us to peace.” 1Cr 7:15 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 18 And yes, I times learned that Εἰρήνη - ei-rā-nā – Peace is used up here. to 92 times in the New Testament
But why Brethren? (Admittedly, I like being different)
Ok but really, why Brethren?• Culture shock after living with the Amish for a month• I can explain what the Brethren believe and why they believe it. There is a very logical thought out approach in everything from baby dedication to the structure of autonomous churches supported by the district.• The foundation is a good one. The Brethren were formed when what the other churches were doing wasn’t Biblical: Baptism as a census.• Courageous people sacrificed because it was the right thing to do.• The basic tenets are consistent and make sense in the world we live in today.
Non-creedalism• A creed is a statement the defined exactly what you must believe. The COB holds no creed but the New Testament.• If there is a single part of the New Testament that is most pointed to as a guide for members lives it is The Sermon on the Mount.• Brethren tend to describe themselves in terms of what we do compared to what we believe.• We do have a vision statement. This is not a litmus test to decide if you are saved, but is meant focus the mission of the church and spur activity on the denominational level and in congregations and districts. Through Scripture, Jesus calls us to live as courageous disciples by word and action: To surrender ourselves to God, To embrace one another, To express God’s love for all creation.• There are three basic core beliefs/tenets from the Bible that Brethren share.
Peace• We are one of the historic peace churches• This is not something that was just important in the past.• It is something that still sets us aside today.• It doesn’t just mean war, but also we strive for peace and reconciliation in our daily lives and in the governing of the Church. For example:(A video was played here about Ekklesiyar Yanuwa (EYN - the CoB in Nigeria) . It described the conflict between the Muslims and Christians and how the EYN stepped in to prevent escalation. To protect the lives of those in the video, it was requested that it not being made available online.)
Priesthood of all Believers• As disciples of Christ, we are called to be brave and courageous in our quest to make disciples of all.• That means that we are each set aside to minister in the church and beyond• This is why, in the past, Brethren churches traditionally used by-vocational pastors
Simplicity• We are called to lead a simple lifestyle• This helps us be at peace• It helps us direct our time to service• It helps us direct our money to where it is needed most.• This is not easy today, but the rewards are hard to argue with.
The Ordinances are important to me• These are symbolic actions ordered by Jesus Christ and practiced by the early church – Anointing ( and laying on of hands ) – Believers baptism – Baptism is an outward sign of an inward experience of salvation. – Love Feast – A love feast includes foot washing, sharing of a meal, and communion.
We are effective• As a denomination we invest in ethical companies and proactively wield our shares rights to steer the companies in the right direction• Our districts have outreach programs in the local cities and urban areas to reach those who need the Lord’s blessings the most• We have an effective disaster relief programs locally and internationally• We make a difference in the world, for example: EYN. Read more: http://www.brethren.org/partners/nigeria/
I’m still growingI’m being fed and I am increasingly able to boldlyminister for the Lord.And I must admit, I do like it when it sounds as ifPaul speaks directly to us:2Cr 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Becomecomplete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, livein peace; and the God of love and peace will bewith you.