Third Way

One of the reasons I joined the Mennonite church several years ago stemmed from relationships with Mennonite friends.  I liked the way they lived, and the lessons they taught me. No matter which way I turned in conversation with a Mennonite, I found a new way of seeing life.

For instance, I actually saw LIFE.

We Mennonites like to use the phrase “third way”. Believing that instead of only two choices in situations, Jesus offers a third way. For example, instead of war vs. apathy, we can actively seek peace.

My current favorite Television series of all time is Burn Notice. The main character, Michael Westin was a famous spy for the U.S. After a job gone badly, he was fired as a spy or in spy terms, “burned”. Along with his girlfriend Fiona, best friend Sam, and a few extra heroes and family drama thrown in, Michael sets out to discover why he was fired and return to his old spy life. In the meantime, he earns spare cash by saving every day citizens from bad guys.

Seriously guys, this show is amazing. To say I love it would be an understatement. I’m already hoping that my family will gift me Season 4 for Christmas.

In every episode, Michael uses his creative spy skills to rescue the poor and oppressed, bringing justice against their oppressors. Although he carries a gun, I have rarely seen him use it. In fact, he often talks other spies and even his girlfriend out of solving crimes with violence. He creates these schemes that are remarkably simple, incredibly dangerous, and result in the gift of life instead of taking it. He’ll even go so far as to save the life of a “bad guy”. Michael Westin uses his skills, his intelligence, patience, and persistence to seek peace and justice in even the most hazardous of situations.

He looks for a third way.

Last week, I purchased a print of this painting. On the back, the artist included a description,  “the image depicts the prophesy in Isaiah where we will turn our weapons into farming equipment…that the things that exist to take life, will give life.”

Photo and Artist Credit: Scott Erickson

Scott Erickson created is as part of the Jesus, Bombs, and Ice cream event.

The event, a variety show of sorts, grew from the creative minds of Shane Claiborne (Co-Founder, The Simple Way), Ben Cohen (Co-Founder, Ben and Jerry’s), and others. Their desire is to see an end to violence because people like you choose creativity and peace over apathy and violence.

The best option is not always violence. The best option is not sitting by and hoping for change. Jesus didn’t sit around and wait for the world to change. He went out, walked on the streets, talked with the people, and changed the world by being a part of it.

The phrase “third way” applies to every life situation, not just violent v. peace. When making a decision, when building a relationship, or when leading the way, if we think that life offers only ‘either, or’ answers, we’re going to miss out on a lot of creative joy.


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