How do we live out our faith?
It is easy to talk about faith and never get around to doing anything. So the continuing call is to “walk the talk.” Alexander Mack, the leader of the earliest Brethren, insisted that they could be recognized “by the manner of their living.”
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, then, affects everything that we say and do. Obedience—meaning obedience of Jesus—has been a key word among Brethren. What we do in the world is just as important as what we do in the church. Christ’s style of self-giving love is the example we are called to follow in all our relationships.
That belief shows itself in the giving nature of Brethren. We respond quickly to need. We send money and volunteers to disaster sites. We support soup kitchens, day-care centers, and homeless shelters in our communities. Thousands of people have served around the world through Brethren Volunteer Service. People often know the Brethren through our ministries of compassion.
We believe following Christ means following his example of serving others, healing the broken, and bringing new life and hope to the despairing. We take seriously Jesus’ call to love all people, including the “enemy.”
In fact, the Church of the Brethren is known as one of the Historic Peace Churches. Brethren have considered participation in war to be unacceptable for Christians and have based this understanding on the teachings of Jesus and on other New Testament texts.
In our concern for the well-being of neighbors near and far, Brethren have begun creative programs to enable the world’s poor to walk toward a better life. Heifer Project International (providing livestock for poor families) and SERRV International (supporting craft producers in developing countries), for example, were both begun by Brethren before they grew into ecumenical ministries.
“For the glory of God and my neighbors’ good” was a motto of an early Brethren leader, whose own successful printing operation was destroyed due to his opposition to the Revolutionary War. This two-part phrase, turning us both toward God in devotion and toward our neighbors in service, remains an appropriate summary of the church’s understanding of the nature of Christian faith.
(Drawn from “Who Are These Brethren?,” Joan Deeter; and “Reflections on Brethren Witness” by David Radcliff)