Fan or Follower: Followers Forgive Others

One of the most fascinating subgroups in American culture might be the Amish communities that can be found in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. The Amish are a group of Christians that come out of the Mennonite and Anabaptist traditions. Led by Jakob Ammann, the Amish formed in the late 17th Century with the belief that their fellow Mennonites and Annbaptists had fallen short of the teachings of Menno Simmons, who founded the Mennonite tradition.

The Amish eventually immigrated to America in the 18th Century and settled in Pennsylvania. They soon moved to other parts of the young nation and established communities that have a unique ethos and practices. Some we are familiar with. For instance, we might know that the Amish are known for their literal interpretation of Scripture, their resistance to technology, their agricultural lifestyle, or even that each community establishes their own practices.

There is one other aspect of Amish communities that, I believe, is characteristic of their tradition. That is that the Amish, as a people, are known for the grace they extend to others, whether they are people within their communities or not. The Amish are forgiving people. Continue reading “Fan or Follower: Followers Forgive Others”

Fan or Followers: Followers Live Differently

Jesus was busy at work.

It was early in Jesus’ earthly ministry and he was traveling throughout the Galilean countryside showing the depths of God’s love through his actions. He healed the sick and those who faced diseases. He taught in the synagogues and announced God’s kingdom had arrived.

Jesus was busy at work and the people were amazed. Matthew tells us a large crowd, which included his 12 primary disciples, gathered around him wanting to know more. They had questions and knew Jesus had answers. Of all the questions they possibly had for Jesus the one they likely wanted answered was this: What does it mean to follow Jesus? The crowd wanted to know more about God’s kingdom and wanted to hear from Jesus about how to be a part of it.

So, Matthew tells us, Jesus finds a hillside near the Sea of Galilee and takes a seat. In Jesus’ time, religious teachers would sit down when they taught. It was symbolic of having authority. Jesus sits and begins teaches with authority about what it means to be apart of God’s kingdom, because he is the Word and the One who is the way to truth and life. He looks out at the crowd and says if you want to experience God’s kingdom then your life must reflect God’s character and love. Followers of Jesus, he says, are those who live differently and take on the radical, counter-cultural, and challenging life Jesus offers and allow this life to inform their actions. Continue reading “Fan or Followers: Followers Live Differently”