For me the only real reason I have come to faith is that I really like Jesus. As a child I remembered sitting in Sunday School and periodically God would speak to me. It was never an audible voice but it was so loud that you knew it was from beyond you. It was always given to me with the kindness of Jesus. Not like the smiting and disappointed God then many Christians profess as their intrinsic belief of God. For me everything rides on Jesus. One of my best friends likes to make fun of me because I am always reading the Gospels. When he first asked me why I told him “If I get everything wrong, but Jesus right, then I am completely satisfied.” For me, Jesus is everything.
During my pre-teen years I witnessed and experience some troubling moments in my life. When I was 10, I saw someone murdered and this was the first of a few deeply scarring and traumatic experiences in my life. That same year I was told twice that the anti-Christ was going to come back and murder me but it was okay because it was part of “God’s plan”. Also, I was beat up a lot as a kid. Its surprising now considering I am a 6’4 man, but, when I was younger and still today, I have a very timid and sensitive personality. My experiences of Christ and reading about him gave me healing to forgive all of the violence that I endured just as he did on the Cross. And, his words on “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword” and “I could send a legion of angels, but, my kingdom is not of this world” have always stuck with me. It was always the outer validation that I needed to affirm my inner knowing and experience that something about violence was detrimental to human life.
I was quite the angry teenager growing up. I angrily pursued things as an agenda to make enemies with others (though I didn’t see it that way at the time). During High School I violently pushed Political agenda upon others. In the 2004 election, I pushed President Bush to no end and I bashed John Kerry with militant conviction (I don’t think I needed to do this, he did this for himself). When I went off to College I saw the error in this. The more I drew to Jesus, the more he pulled me into a larger Kingdom. A Kingdom where peace, hope and love reigned. And, although it has taken me a few years to work through some of the pain in my life, this was to me an admirable life to live. I didn’t need to make enemies with other Political parties and I didn’t really have to invest much energy into Politics at all. As I was drawn in by Jesus in his life, I drew closer to his politics of Peace and Justice, of Healing and Restoration.
Even though I was raised Evangelical all my life, I found Anabaptist theology when I was 21. I credit it for giving me a better life and faith direction. Its something I believe that the world needs. I believe the world needs it because Anabaptist’s center everything around Jesus and I believe the world needs him. While Anabaptist history is often mocked, or viewed as irrelevant, we can learn from their mistakes that we don’t need to flee from the world (not all of them did). But, we can learn to love and restore and absorb the pain and the violence just as Christ did.