Our Mennonite study group just finished reading Donald B. Kraybill’s Anabaptist Classic The Upside-Down Kingdom.
Despite its relative age (first published in 1978), over and over our group was struck by the timeliness of this book. It analyzed wealth inequalities, partisan politics, personal economics, and social capital. It called us to integrate our faith with our economics, to live intentionally, and to keep peace at the heart of the Gospel. The messages were clear and fresh and challenging for today’s world:
- The seductive voices of our age proclaim that financial success does determine significance. Life does consist of possessions. Abundant possessions do equal abundant life.
- In subtle and unconscious ways our economic systems may distort our faith.
- There are several simple questions those of us concerned with simplicity can ask ourselves: If everyone throughout the world consumed as many natural resources as I do, what kind of a world would we have? How much does my level of consumption drain energy resources and strain the environment? Is my lifestyle this year more simplified than it was last year? Or is it more complicated, more consumptive, more stressful? In which direction am I drifting?
- God is a God of peace. Jesus is the Prince of peace. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of peace. The kingdom of God pivots on justice, peace, and joy. The children of God are peacemakers. The gospel is the good news of peace. Shalom is the core, not the caboose, of God’s salvation.
- Instead of turning the hierarchy upside down and making a new one, Jesus questions the very need for hierarchy… He calls us to participate in a flat kingdom where everyone is the greatest.
When looking for counter-cultural resources and ways to ground ourselves in the peaceful, simple, communal faith that we follow, this book is an excellent companion.
Within the mix of Kraybill’s first-century historical information, accessible biblical exegesis, and contemporary application, we found much to relate to as 21st century Anabaptists, and we found ourselves in increasingly deep conversations about how we might live our lives today upside-down.
In September the study group will be watching and discussing a film and deciding on our next read. Join us if you can!
Peace to you,