“If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (Reference: 1 Peter 2:20-24 )
The historic Anabaptists were not the only group who are models for discipleship. The Quakers, the Hutterites, the Methodists, the Baptists, the Lutherans – any denomination that has stepped out from under the shadow of an established religion has had to find their own way to discipleship. If they had not, their denomination and faith practices would not have been established. At one the Roman Catholics were but a pale image of what they are now. Each denomination and faith practice can be traced back to the early Christian church. And each continent where they are Christian churches now were once “early Christian” churches.
And each church has to “endure” through the opposition, mistrust, oppression/suppression, and at times outright persecution. The historic Anabaptists do not have a monopoly on that. And each denomination felt that they (and sometimes felt that they alone) were following God correctly. Unfortunately when they became established, they took upon themselves the dominant and official way of belief, forgetting that they were once marginalized.
The historic Anabaptists modeled their response to opposition and oppression on how Christ responded, not chastising or condemning his accusers, but stating simply and openly what he believed and why. And as Christ entrusted himself to God, so did the historic Anabaptists.
Each of Christ’s disciples were willing to suffer in order to follow Christ, and found it a privilege to be cast in the same mode of “guilt” that Christ was. And Paul, who turned his life around, counted it a privilege and blessing to suffer for his mission in spreading the word of God. The historic Anabaptists, and their spiritual descendents counted their lives a success if they lived as Christ commanded all of his followers to live. That is the heart of discipleship; discerning Christ/God’s will and following that faithfully each day of your life even if it leads to your death.
May you beloved live such a life of discipleship. Selah!