Gloria Yoder writes an introspective Amish Cook column this week, on why she is Amish. As she often does, Gloria first notes that there are many different types of Amish people and that she can only speak for her community (Gloria belongs to a New Order Amish church). She then explains:
Of the thousands of denominations out there, there is no other I’d rather spend community living with than those around me, but still, the knot within remains. I love my family, enjoy my church friends, and consider them my brothers and sisters. We enjoy our pony and the countless drives we’ve enjoyed on perfect evenings as wisps of hair from the children on my lap blow back into my face. Yes, I honestly love being Amish; still, in the depth of my heart, there is something much deeper than the title “Amish” which has been given to us. This is what I’m feeling: without Jesus, it would be nothing. Do you know how much nothing is? I’m referring to zero. So, even with a blessed heritage, if it wouldn’t be for the blood of Jesus, our lifestyle would be no good. I love the Lord. I love Him with my whole heart. Without Him, I would be lost, like totally helpless. Yet honestly, I face times when I begin to focus on responsibilities and forget how safe and loved I am by the one who gave His life so that I can live in the freedom of heart. Like Daniel always says, “His provision will not do a thing for us until we claim it.” Praise God, as I bow in His presence in repentance and receive His gift of absolute provision, my sights are cleared; I again get up and love life because He loves me.
In all this, God has sent many dear friends, including many of you who are not Amish, who have been such a blessing to us. No matter what church you do or don’t go to, you matter. As you seek the Lord and pour your hearts into studying the Scriptures, you’ll be blessed more than you’ll ever know.
So back to the Amish lifestyle, we have chosen it, not because it’s the only way to live, but we value its practical applications to various principles of the Bible.
I think Gloria is saying a couple of things here. For one, she clearly loves aspects of Amish living – the relationships and community, the “Amish” things like horse-drawn travel. But more importantly two, Gloria is emphasizing that it is really about Jesus, more than the lifestyle or other aspects of the Amish. The Amish part is about applying the Bible to life, and she judges it a good way to do so.
Would you get different answers to the question if you asked Amish in other churches? The New Order Amish have a reputation for being particularly “spiritually-minded” for lack of a better term. Criticism of the Amish by, for example, some ex-Amish people, often includes claims that Amish place their faith in getting to heaven in their lifestyle, or something thereabouts. There may be some who believe in that way, but I’ve known many Amish who are “spiritually-minded” beyond the lifestyle (and who see themselves as Christians first) in non-New Order churches.
Finally, similar to other New Order people I’ve known, Gloria is customarily welcoming. She adds towards the end “By the way, if you’re in the area, drop in, we’d love to chat, and maybe even have an old-fashioned pony ride together!” I’ve often wondered how many visitors she gets.
Image: Ed C.