A Consoling Admonition

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)

Because we looked at Menno’s foundational verse yesterday, let us consider some of his thoughts on being persecuted. He wrote a book, “A Consoling Admonition concerning the sufferings, oppressions and persecutions of the Saints for the Word of God and his testimony.” Interestingly (I think), Menno never calls us to bless our persecutors (at least in this work; in another writing he quotes the beatitude on which the statement above from Romans is taken). Rather he starts by reminding us that we are blessed when we are persecuted, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to us.

Menno reminds us that Jesus called us to take up a cross, and go out as sheep before wolves; he quotes Jesus who time and again said we would be afflicted if we are his followers. He reminds his readers that their persecution is due to their being enlightened, and it is better to have the grace of God with persecutions than to be ignorant and unpersecuted.

He reminds them that the persecution of the godly happens from the beginning of human history (Cain and Abel), and throughout the stories of the Old and New Testaments. He especially reminds them of the example our own Lord, Jesus Christ, and those of the world have persecuted even Jesus Christ, they will persecute us as well. He reminds them of how good people they knew were being persecuted by their faith, and how they are being lied about by those in power, even by those who, like the Mennonites, opposed the wrongdoings in the late-medieval Catholic church. He reminds the flock that they only sword they were to use was the “sword of the Spirit.”

He reminds them that God will bring judgment, and that those who persecute them will be themselves judged. He reminds them, too, that God can and does use persecution and trouble to purge and correct the evil in us. He reminds them not to envy those who are carefree, but to follow God. He writes:

Therefore, beloved brethren, bearers of the cross of the Lord, acknowledge your God; fear, love, believe, confide, and serve him, and that in the fullness of pureness of heart, according to the example of all saints, and of Christ Jesus, and the Father of mercies and of truth, in the excellency of his love, will not forsake you, but will care for you as the apple of his eye, will faithfully support you, in every misfortune and extremity, will extend his hand, and guard and preserve you, in life or in death, as is pleasing in his sight, to the enhancement of his glory, and to the salvation of your own souls, for he is so kind and faithful, that he will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able to endure, but will in his boundless mercy graciously make a way for you to escape, if you only remain steadfast in the belief of his word, and consider him as your faithful Father.

I would recommend perusing the Consoling Admonition, especially if you’re feeling oppressed or discouraged by the world around you. Its style is verbose to our modern sensibilities, but as a consolation, it works.

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About Will Fitzgerald

I work on recommendation systems and lexical resources for Wordnik.

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