Get Dressed

As I mentioned last week, Renée and I were on vacation. We bit the bullet at five dollars a gallon and traveled to one of our favorite places – Amish Country in Pennsylvania. I have always been fascinated with this community.

The Amish are a group of people who follow the teachings of Jacob Ammann, a 17th century citizen of Switzerland. The Amish are a Protestant denomination, closely related to the Mennonites. Most of the Amish live in the United States and seek to lead a simple life centered around faith and family. Some of their customs include refusing to take oaths, vote, or perform military service. They do pay income taxes (federal and state), sales taxes, property taxes, estate taxes, and school taxes (even though they do not send their children to public schools) but have an exemption from social security taxes. This is a moot point really because they do not collect any social security. The Amish do not believe in insurance and that’s what social security is – an insurance program. They shun modern technology and conveniences. As we know, transportation for the Amish is by horse and buggy. They do not have electricity or telephones in their homes. The men wear beards and pants with buttons instead of zippers. The women wear white head coverings and plain dresses, without buttons – they use straight pins to fasten the clothing.

The Amish believe that James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you,” means to stay away from things the “world” does – like driving cars, having a TV, going to movies, wearing make-up, and the enjoying the conveniences of electricity and phones. These lifestyle choices, along with their distinct clothing, are some of the things that “separates” them from the world.

They are not isolated by any means. They have farms and a variety of businesses. They interact with “the English” (that’s what they call you and me) on a daily basis. They just prefer to shield themselves from a fallen world as best they can.

I can identify with a lot of what they teach. This is a fallen world full of fallen people and Romans 12:2 does tell us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world…” However, I believe Christians should be a part of the solution. Of healing a broken culture, society, world. I know Amish people would like to see healing take place as well. We may just differ on the method.

For instance, the “Prayer of Jesus” is recorded in John 17, and Jesus says to the Father, “I have given them [disciples, believers, you and me] your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one” (John 17:14-15). In other words, we are called to be “in” the world but not “of” the world.

We “English” believers dress like everyone else. We all have electricity and phones. It is our behavior. Our honesty, integrity, service, love, mercy, forgiveness that should set us apart. Believe me, when people experience God’s love and grace through us, it will stand out just as much as a horse and buggy does. Sadly, because it is just as odd and rare.

Like our Amish brothers and sisters, we also want to “stick out” in this world but not because of our wardrobe. Nonetheless, when you get dressed tomorrow, don’t forget to put on your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Believe me, you will stick out.


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