The same can be said of Amish and Mennonites who came out of the same tradition and also from a Germanic culture, although the area where those two groups originated would now be Switzerland. There are several reality shows based on the Amish who are the stricter of these two sects. Some of the Amish groups do a good job of retaining the loving foundation of their rules and remembering the compassionate example set by our Lord. Others lapse into pure legalism that has very little resemblance to a Christian life. You can see this in some of the episodes on the shows that tell their stories. In one show, Amish: Out of Order, much of the drama centers on the attempts of young people in the Amish community to break-out into the modern world around them as they crave a life free of the constricting rules that stifle creativity and the human spirit. But this is a difficult task for these young people, requiring great courage to make the leap, especially when their legalistic families subsequently cut them off, refusing even a kind word under their legalistic practice of shunning. This is a far cry from the loving requirements of the Bible that God wants us to live up to. Moreover, this is not what Jesus said He expected of those who claimed to be His followers (Mat. 25). You can easily understand the frustrations of these young people in trying to live under such a harsh rule, and you can understand why they would want to break free from such a lifestyle.
They remind me of the many East Europeans that risked life and limb to try escaping from the cruel, bleak life of the former Communist regimes during the late 40’s through the late 80’s. I remember visiting Berlin before the wall fell. I was stationed in Germany as a young American military officer. My wife and I took advantage of a guided tour to that island of freedom in the middle of tyranny. I distinctly remember crossing the heavily fortified border of East and West Germany. The fences, towers, and other fortifications of the border informed you immediately that the authorities meant business and that this was a closed society. As we moved through the highway checkpoint and entered East Germany, the change was abrupt. The smooth asphalt ribbon of the West German Autobahn changed to a bumpy, rough concrete road which you would more expect to find in a less developed, less industrialized nation. Additionally, the neat, pristine, colorful houses of West Germany gave way to the drab, run-down looking houses east of the border. The meticulous yards full of interesting plants and flowers that you see everywhere in western Germany gave way to the disheveled, disorderly yards of the Communist side. The message you could read on virtually everything in that country was that nobody cared, so why bother.
More on this tomorrow.