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of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995
Article 17. Discipleship and the
We believe that Jesus
Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow him. Through the gift
of God's saving grace, we are empowered to be disciples of Jesus,
filled with his Spirit, following his teachings and his path through
suffering to new life. As by faith we walk in Christ's way, we are
being transformed into his image. We become conformed to Christ,
faithful to the will of God, and separated from the evil in the world.
The experience of God
through the Holy Spirit, prayer, Scripture, and the church empowers us
and teaches us how to follow Christ. Likewise, as we follow Christ in
our lives, we are brought into closer relationship with God, and Christ
dwells in us.  Through grace, God works
in us to recreate us in the image of Christ, himself the image of the
invisible God. Wherever Christian faith is active in love and truth,
there is the new creation. By the new birth, we are adopted into God's
family, becoming children of God.  Our
participation in Christ includes both salvation and discipleship.
Conformity to Christ
necessarily implies nonconformity to the world. 
True faith in Christ means willingness to do the will of God, rather
than willful pursuit of individual happiness. 
True faith means seeking first the reign of God in simplicity, rather
than pursuing materialism.  True faith
means acting in peace and justice, rather than with violence or
military means.  True faith means
giving first loyalty to God's kingdom, rather than to any nation-state
or ethnic group that claims our allegiance. 
True faith means honest affirmation of the truth, rather than reliance
on oaths to guarantee our truth telling. 
True faith means chastity and loving faithfulness to marriage vows,
rather than the distortion of sexual relationships, contrary to God's
intention.  True faith means treating
our bodies as God's temples, rather than allowing addictive behaviors
to take hold. True faith means performing deeds of compassion and
reconciliation, in holiness of life, instead of letting sin rule over
us.  Our faithfulness to Christ is
lived out in the loving life and witness of the church community, which
is to be a separated people, holy to God.
In all areas of life, we
are called to be Jesus' disciples. Jesus is our example, especially in
his suffering for the right without retaliation,  in his love for enemies, and in his
forgiveness of those who persecuted him. Yet, as we follow Jesus, we
look not only to the cross, but through the cross, to the joy of the
resurrection. We place our hope in God's vindication of those who take
the narrow way that leads to life. 
"If we have died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we
will also reign with him." 
(1) Phil. 3:10.
(2) Rom. 8:12-17.
(3) Rom. 12:1-2.
(4) Matt. 26:39.
(5) Matt. 5:3; 6:25-33.
(6) Zech. 4:6; Matt. 5:6, 9, 38-48.
(7) Josh. 24; Ps. 47; Acts 5:29.
(8) Matt. 5:33-37.
(9) Matt. 5:27-30.
(10) Mic. 6:8; Rom. 6:12-14.
(11) 1 Pet. 2:21-23; Rom. 12:9-21.
(12) Matt. 7:13-14.
(13) 2 Tim. 2:11-12.
1. Christians are called to be separate from the evil in the world. Our
nonconformity does not mean that we withdraw from all contact with
those outside the church. Rather, our way of thinking is changed, and
we avoid sinful behavior and participation in groups which promote sin
(Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 5:9-10). When we do not conform to the evil ways of
the world, others will sometimes separate themselves from us (John
3:20). We are able to be nonconformed to evil when we are conformed to
Christ and willing to let the Holy Spirit transform us into Christ's
2. Suffering may often be
the result of discipleship. Jesus said, "If any want to become my
followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and
follow me" (Luke 9:23). The early Christians also saw persecution for
the faith as sharing in the sufferings of Jesus, who was their example
of not repaying evil for evil (Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:8-18; 4:12-19). Yet
suffering is not to be sought for its own sake. Jesus healed many who
suffered, and it is right to pray for healing and for rescue from evil
(Matt. 6:13). God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13) nor desire that we
suffer, though God can use suffering to instruct us and bring us to
Jesus promised blessings
for those who suffer for righteousness' sake (Matt. 5:10-12; Luke
9:23-26). The New Testament understands discipleship as participation
in Christ: in his ministry, in his suffering and death, and in his
resurrection (for example, 2 Cor. 4:7-12). Those who share in his
suffering will also share his glory. Giving our all for the reign of
God brings us joy (Matt. 13:44-46).
3. Discipleship is to be
lived out in the context of Christian community. As individuals we are
called to follow Jesus, and the church community is also called to a
life of discipleship. In the congregation, discipleship is also closely
connected with discipline and mutual care. Christ's disciples together
learn how to follow Christ more nearly in their love for each other and
in their accountability to each other.
4. The articles that
follow cover specific aspects of discipleship: "Christian Spirituality"
(Article 18), "Family, Singleness, and Marriage" (Article 19), "Truth
and the Avoidance of Oaths" (Article 20), "Christian Stewardship"
(Article 21), "Peace, Justice, and Nonresistance" (Article 22), and
"The Church's Relation to Government and Society" (Article 23). See
also Article 8 "Salvation" for a discussion of faith and faithfulness.
the delegates of Mennonite Church General Assembly, and of the General
Conference Mennonite Church Tricentennial Session, July 28, 1995,
Wichita, Kansas. Copyright © 1995 by Herald Press Scottdale PA
15683. Used by permission. Order print copies of Confession of
Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, and Summary Statement,
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, From Herald Press, Scottdale,
Pa. Worship resources
based on this confession, and translations
are also available.
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