From their earliest days of the 16th century Reformation, Mennonites have believed that doing justice and actively practicing peacemaking are essential parts of the good news of Jesus. Over their history, they have experienced severe persecution as a result of these faith understandings. Most Mennonites get their primary ideas about peace from what Jesus said and how he lived and especially as articulated in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and parallel accounts in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, Luke 6:17-49. Mennonites believe that Jesus meant what Jesus said and that to follow the spirit and actions of Jesus in these texts are God-bearing. Thus guiding texts include:
“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God”
— Matthew 5:9
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.”
— Matthew 5:13-14
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
— Luke 6:27
Old Testament texts such as those found in Isaiah, Micah 6:8, and Amos are also important to Anabaptist Mennonite faith and living.
We see Jesus’ message of peace in his teachings and also in the way he treated others, including those who put him on trial and killed him. Although he talked often of peace, Jesus was not passive. Indeed, his challenges to the religious and political leaders of his day led to his death. In raising Jesus from the dead, God showed for all time that love will triumph over evil and violence.
Mennonites try to show God’s love in their actions, working to eliminate war, violence, and injustice. Along with the Quakers and Church of the Brethren, Mennonites are part of the Historic Peace Church tradition and were fundamental to establishing the legal right to for persons to practice alternative service to the military in times of war. (Adapted from Third Way Café website.)
For more information about Mennonites and peace, see the following links: