We had a couple come out and visit us for church yesterday. Jack is on social security and he supplements his income by giving rides to members of the Amish community. When he told this to me after church I had to chuckle.
The laws that we impose upon ourselves in the pursuit of God through religion can sometimes twist us into theological pretzels. So an Amish person cannot drive a car but they can pay someone to drive them. Is it sin for them to drive a car? Do they think it is sin for me to drive a car? Or are these just church guidelines that apply only to those who submit themselves to the authorities of the Amish church? Or is the issue not one of sin but part of a larger reality of living a life in a way that allows a person to make it to heaven and not get captured by the world?
When we came out here to Sparta, we took drives in all directions from the town. On one trip we drove through some Amish country and stopped in their country store. We bought a few goodies and then were admiring their furniture for sale. I was watching a young Amish girl stare at us through the window. She wasn’t really staring at us but she was beaming in upon Audra’s hip shoes.
Just the far away look of that 11 or 12 year old, looking into a future she most likely will never experience brought a sense of the mixed blessing of her life. The safety of her Amish community verses the danger of the outside world. I am sure many young people leave that safety for the “normal” lifestyle of the world. Can they make that transition and hold on to their faith in Christ? Or is their salvation so wrapped up in the Amish way of life that et least in their minds the person who leaves the community is actually leaving Christ also?
I remember talking to a member of the Jesus commune in Chicago that housed the band “Resurrection”. Talking with him gave me the impression that they had tied salvation to the act of living communally. To stop living communally, going back into the world, to be selfish, to be concerned only with one’s immediate family was a bad step, a step to be discouraged.
I think all churches do this to one degree or another. I have thought about how my Christian life might be different if I had originally gotten saved in another church. I think this is why Paul said in 1 Cor 2:3 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. Yet, we know he said a lot more that churches apply differently to their members.
Mostly, this kind of thinking brings me to the importance of understanding basic salvation doctrine, God, Jesus, died for our sins and rose from the dead, anyone who believes this is saved. We are then commended to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling”. With this in mind I can appreciate the Amish stand for holiness. I glanced at this article: http://www.goshen.edu/facultypubs/GROSS.html while doing this entry. It seems that their clothing rules are not based on legalism but on a desire to keep the community together as an illustration of true disciples in their “love for one another”.