The late Brethren pastor-theologian, Brian Moore, presented a paper to the fifth Brethren World Assembly (July 11-14, 2008) describing the role of Jesus in Brethren spirituality. In closing, he offered several considerations. The following was his sixth calling for a “joyful obedience” to the work the Lord has called us.
The Brethren sought to follow Jesus in the spirit of the psalmist whose “delight (was) in the law of the Lord” (Psalm 1:2, NIV). Theirs was not the spirit of a reluctant obedience to a tyrannical overlord; theirs was the joy of being counted worthy to be his followers and even to suffer in his name. They could even liken it to a delicious repast: “The food of the new creation . . . is true obedience to the Lord Jesus.”
Their study of Jesus, i.e., Christology, was not an abstract approach but rather it was Jesus for “edification, enjoyment of salvation, godliness”. A modern writer concurs when she said, “So here is where I finish my rough Christology, by reminding myself and us together that Christ is a mystery best approached with humility and by way of participation and experience, poetry and song, communion and love-creating, and only secondarily approached with reason and words.”
Joyful obedience needs to be the spirit of the Brethren these days. We need to recover the hardiness of discipleship combined with a joyful countenance! Let our eyes and faces tell the world that there is joy in the journey of following Jesus! We are told that the new generation of believers wants to “feel its faith”, rather than just “know” it. If so, I believe the Brethren have an opportunity here because we offer both experience and information.
A Brethren Benediction
I find Brian’s words to be a fitting challenge as we celebrate our God coming to us this season. In response to his challenge this Advent season, let us receive from William Knepper, one of the Brethren who in the 18th century was held captive in a Jülich, Germany prison for nearly four years, a Brethren benediction (of sorts). After having come to America and on his deathbed (1755) he wrote a testament to his family. It begins like this:
[May] Jesus Christ, the bright-shining morning star, the root and offspring of David, enlighten and penetrate the foundation of your hearts, that we may be a light in the Lord, and be filled with the spirit. Amen.