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Does God’s Kingdom Depend on Us?

June 11, 2019 by

This month marks the 99th anniversary of the Bruderhof’s founding. As we enter our 100th year I think about where we have come from, where we have been, but mostly where we are going. Since I work in our archive with a focus on Eberhard Arnold, the founder of our community, I’m hoping that we rediscover his vision for why we live in community. It’s easy, in our day-to-day busyness, to lose sight of our purpose.

Arnold studied the spiritual movements of earlier times and liked to think of the Bruderhof as part of a long chain linking us to the first Christians after Jesus’ resurrection. But he also believed that the Holy Spirit continually awakens hearts and inspires new movements. So while we need to remember our own past (Arnold once said, “Whoever despises history despises God”), we also need to find our own purpose today, the message God wants to give through us in the 21st century.

The following passage, spoken by Eberhard Arnold in 1928, inspires me to believe that some day God will move powerfully across the globe. This excerpt is taken from Eberhard Arnold: Writings Selected:

All the various movements of the past decades will one day converge in a radical awakening of the masses that leads the way to social justice and to God’s unity – that is to say, to the church, to the kingdom of God, and to community in action. We must set our little Bruderhof in the midst of this mighty task and sacrifice ourselves. We must not cling to a time when we were (or still are) a small circle of people knowing each other intimately. Rather we must be ready to be consumed in a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to be merged with it completely.

Like a volcanic eruption, a spiritual revolution needs to spread through the country, to spur people to crucial decisions. People have to recognize the futility of splitting life up into politics, economics, the humanities, and religion. We must be awakened to a life in which all of these things are completely integrated.

a group of people talking at Fox Hill, a Bruderhof community in Walden NY

We need to find an attitude of responsibility for public affairs, and this attitude must be completely practical, completely spiritual, and thoroughly believing. We must gain an inner understanding and a broad view of how all things affect each other, and through this find the right way to tackle all kinds of social problems. With this understanding we will be able to work creatively in the economic sphere. We will do all this in faith, and this faith will find its fulfillment in the love that creates community in all things.

So we must win a faith that does not break down in the face of social ills, but that completely envelopes and transforms them – a faith that embraces economic problems and solves them. This means a faith that takes on all inner and outer tasks and makes them part of our daily life; it means faith in a God who created everything and provides for everything and who does not let go of any part of his will.

The new awakening must therefore be both religious and social; a Christ-centered communist awakening, an awakening to God’s kingdom, to grace as a reality.

We have to recognize the futility of splitting life up into politics, economics, the humanities, and religion. We must be awakened to a life in which all of these things are completely integrated.
—Eberhard Arnold

This image of the future appears fantastic only to the unbelieving. The believer who reckons with the historical realities of Jesus’ time and of the Reformation will feel that all this must surely take place, and very soon at that. But if we are as convinced of the truth as we have often asserted, then we must live in such a way that all this can really happen. More than anything else we must arrive at such a reverence for the working of the Holy Spirit that our trivial concerns over personal matters – the state of our health and our emotional needs – are sacrificed in this mighty flame.

Everything will depend on whether or not the last hour finds us a generation worthy of greatness. And the only thing worthy of God’s greatness is our readiness to die for his cause. So we must show this readiness to die in the trivial details of daily life, or we will not be able to stand firm in the critical hour to come. We need to overcome completely all petty points of view, all purely personal opinions and feelings, all fear, care, and inner uncertainty – in short, all unbelief. In its place we must put faith – faith as small as a seed but which has the power to grow.

Whether the twentieth century is shattered for God’s kingdom or simply passes by depends in part on us. We know what is at stake; we know the will of God. We have felt the power of the Holy Spirit and the powers of the future world. So let us get going; now is the time!


About the author

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel, an author with a particular interest in Bruderhof history, writes a regular blog post featuring timely...

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