Earlier today I posted an excerpt of an interesting article on Anabaptism on my Tumblr blog and it’s engendered quite a conversation on Facebook about testimonies and empty forms, etc. It’s true that any form of spiritual discipline can get twisted into look-at-me heroism or lets-talk-anything-but-God group conformity.
The answer isn’t to give up testimonies or to hold onto them even tighter, but instead to constantly remind ourselves about their purpose: to learn how to live as an attentive people of God. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook:
I’ve been a mostly bicycle-riding vegan for decades, an outspoken
pacifist and a frequent plain dresser. All of these practices have
aided my spiritual growth but also have unearthed new sources of pride
for me to wrestle with. The self-examination has been practice in
I often think back to the story of the Good Samaritan. What mattered
wasn’t how he was dressed or whether he was riding a bicycle. No, what
mattered is that he knew enough to know he was being called to
sacrifice something: to get covered in a strangers blood, to aid
someone who might resent him for it, to lose money he had earned to put
someone up for the night. Maybe he had practiced this discernment of
self-sacrifice by living a testimony that had challenged him to
navigate between loss and pride, and maybe he had been brought up in a
community where the value of love was prized above all. The important
thing is he knew to stop and be a true neighbor.