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of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995
Article 18. Christian Spirituality
We believe that to be a
disciple of Jesus is to know life in the Spirit. As we experience
relationship with God, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus
Christ take shape in us, and we grow in the image of Christ. In
individual and communal worship, the Holy Spirit is present, leading us
deeper into the wisdom of God.
By confessing Christ and
receiving baptism, we are brought into a new relationship with God
through Christ. In God's love, our whole life is freed, transformed,
reordered, and renewed. In loving and knowing God, we experience
communion with God and allow more and more of our life to be conformed
to the way of Jesus--his life, death, and resurrection. We yield
ourselves to God, letting the Holy Spirit mold us into the image of
Christ.  As individual Christians and
as the church, we are called to be in relationship with God, reflecting
the way of Christ, being filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to grow up
in every way into Christ, who is the head of the church, through whom
it is built up in love. 
We draw the life of the
Spirit from Jesus Christ, just as a branch draws life from the vine.
Severed from the vine, the power of the Spirit cannot fill us. But as
we make our home in Christ and Christ abides in us, we bear fruit and
become his disciples.  When we are in
the presence of the Spirit, we also keep in step with the Spirit and
show the fruit of the Spirit in our actions. 
Our outer behavior matches our inner life.
such as prayer, study of Scripture, reflection on God, corporate
worship, singing hymns, simplicity, witness, and service are training
in godliness.  Such disciplines open us
to a growing relationship with God and to putting ourselves more
completely into the hands of God. Disciplines are also preparation for
times of testing and of suffering. If we practice the presence of God
in calmer times, we find it easier to know God's presence in difficult
We are convinced that
nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,  for God can use both joy and suffering to
nurture our spiritual growth.  In this
age, Christ in us is our hope of glory. 
We look forward to that time when our partial knowledge of God will
become complete, and we will see face to face. 
(1) 2 Cor. 3:17-18; Phil. 3:21.
(2) Eph. 4:15-16.
(3) John 15:5-8.
(4) Ps. 1; Gal. 5:22-26.
(5) 1 Tim. 4:7-8.
(6) Rom. 8:35-39.
(7) Matt. 5:1-12; Ps. 119:67.
(8) Col. 1:27.
(9) 1 Cor. 13:12.
1. Spirituality is a relatively recent term used to refer to life in
the Spirit and the experience of God. Anabaptists and Mennonites have
used several words to describe spirituality, such as piety, humility,
Gelassenheit (yieldedness or letting go), Frömmigkeit (piety), and
Nachfolge (following Christ). These concepts all have to do with
radical openness to knowing God and to doing God's will. They do not
separate spirituality from ethics, or reflection from action. For this
reason, this confession of faith includes spirituality in the section
on discipleship. Jesus taught that the pure (or clean) in heart are the
ones who will see God (Matt. 5:8).
2. Many religious
traditions speak of spirituality, or experience of the divine. People
sometimes claim that all such experiences are really the same. But at
least two distinct streams can be identified in the history of
Christian spirituality. In the stream influenced primarily by Greek
philosophy, the goal is union with God, the individual's absorption
into God. Loving the neighbor and following Christ are by-products of
this union with God.
The second stream is
influenced more by biblical thought. The goal of its action and
contemplation is communion with God, or covenant relationship with God.
It is more focused on Jesus Christ--his life, death, and
resurrection--as the way for believers. The Anabaptists of the
sixteenth century were not the first to recognize that knowing Christ
and following Christ in life are interwoven; many earlier dissenters
had also connected spiritual insight with ethics. This confession of
faith identifies more strongly with the second stream by affirming that
Christian spirituality is defined by Christ and his way, in accordance
with the Scriptures.
3. The Holy Spirit is
present to God's people individually and corporately. The New Testament
refers to both the gathered body and the individual Christian as a
temple or dwelling place for the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17; Eph.
2:21-22; 1 Cor. 6:19). Both personal devotion and corporate worship,
individual action and community activity, are occasions for the
Spirit's work in, among, and through us.
4. The list of spiritual
disciplines mentioned in this article is not complete. Fasting, keeping
a journal, alms giving, and other disciplines could have been included.
Practicing the spiritual disciplines is good in itself, and it produces
other desirable results. Scripture study leads us toward knowing God,
as well as increasing our knowledge about God. Worship contributes to
our spiritual growth, as well as declaring our praise and our
allegiance to God. Giving alms helps us to seek the kingdom of God by
keeping us from becoming too attached to material things, as well as
helping the poor.
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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