Freedom powered by love

May 3, 2017 | Viewpoints | Volume 21 Issue 10
Garry Janzen |

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of his dream. His dream was that people would be judged by the content of their character and not the colour of their skin. His dream was that there would be equality for all, that the ground would be level for everyone. His dream was that all would work together in peace and nonviolence until there is freedom for all.

What is our dream for a church that will carry us forward? Miroslav Volf, in Exclusion and Embrace, quotes Jürgen Moltmann in saying, “The ultimate goal of human beings is not the kingdom of freedom. Rather, the kingdom of freedom is a process toward the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of love.” This is not to challenge Martin Luther King Jr., but to recognize that his dream of freedom is powered by love.

What does the church look like when love leads the way? It is a church that is guided by passages like John 17, I Corinthians 13 and I John 4. It is a church that is committed to believing the best of each other and to listening to each other for the purpose of understanding, and it is made up of people who are slow to judge. It is a church that is a people of reconciliation; it is about building bridges rather than walls of separation.

This kind of church is an upside-down kingdom that reflects Jesus’ way of empowering people rather than overpowering people: power under, to uplift, rather than power over, to dominate. I love the song, “The Power of Your Love”; it turns the “love of power” on its head with the “power of Jesus’ love.”

This kind of church relies on humility as an undergirding principle. The Apostle Paul singled out this characteristic of Jesus, who “emptied [humbled] himself” to become human (Philippians 2:7-8). Richard Rohr, in his Jan. 12 online meditation, said, “Transformation is found in one of God’s favourite and most effective hiding places: humility.” This is the picture of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).

I Peter 1:22 calls us to “love one another deeply from the heart.” Whenever I am helping a pastor through challenging times in a congregation, I always say, “Above all else, love the people.” When the people know that you love them, grace abounds.

Garry Janzen is executive minister of Mennonite Church B.C.

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Is there freedom and love without truth? Truth given to us from of old? Truth given to us by Jesus and communicated via the apostolic witness--the scriptures? Freedom and love without truth is the mess we are in now, not a way forward.

Mennonites have only in modern times become known by the world at large as "peace advocates." Whereas for the previous 500 years the Mennonites were successful Christians because of their separation from the world and their separation from Babylon-false religions and its abominations, and their separation from religiously corrupt and, most importantly, scriptural corruption and luke-warmness.
I agree with Mr. Bergen, that we should stick to the truth, both in love and in freedom and be obedient to the Word. I believe we should hate all sin, just as God does, and we should never get caught up in all the lukewarm, wishy-washy, everything is O.K., politically correct love-peace talk that "the world" and the worldly want to conform us to.
Does the modern Mennonite church have to literally disappear before truth in love and freedom will flourish again? I believe that the degrees of separation from the truth that the modern Mennonite church is not being obedient to is unconscionable, because to the outsider it even looks ripe to be infiltrated and taken over by "guess who?".
Also we must not forget that Jesus overturned tables and drove out those in the temple that were making it "into a den of thieves." No true Christian can reconcile Satan and those in his world with love and or freedom without the truth. God is love and a God of order! Preaching false and fake love is easy, even if it is partly true, but preaching the truth is a much more difficult and different path than what I see and hear about nowadays from our mainstream churches. I am completely convinced we must know by whom and how our churches are controlled, and why even the most subtle and enticing changes are completely disobedient to the word of truth, leading to institutional and personal destruction. We cannot compromise with Satan without getting burnt, no matter how much love we think we have!

I completely agree with your view of this topic, in how we should all hate sin. Although I do not agree with your statement that Martin Luther King Jr.
King's speech is focused on the equality of all human beings. Whether you are white or black, his speech focused on the importance of everyone and loving like brothers and sisters, much like we do in Christ.
His love for all people inspired many in the freedom that they deserved, as we are all equals. His speech was not only created out of love but also of truth.

You cannot go forward without putting these three very important concepts together. I do not believe you need to separate truth and love so that freedom can flourish again. It is the way you conceive them and connect them that matters most. Connecting all three together make for a most wonderful world.

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