Recently, we received a card from an old-order Amish family. It reminded me of our time spent with them over the years along with other Amish friends that we’ve made in Lancaster, PA.
After I read the card, I couldn’t help but smile. We have had good times up there over the years, and we rarely come home to Virginia without learning something beneficial to our own lives.
I’ve been thinking recently how much we as Christians can learn from them. It’s true that, generally speaking, all Amish are not Christian. To think so would be a stretch of the imagination. Equally absurd is to think that none of them are. Yet, even the unregenerate Amish have some beneficial things to teach Christians.
Now before anyone gets all sanctimonious and hypocritically pious on me about learning from unregenerates, stop and think. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you know everything. It doesn’t mean we have nothing to learn from those who have not been born again, and it certainly doesn’t mean – even though most young, hot-headed, new Calvinists gang-bangers may think otherwise – that we should look down our noses on anyone. Grace, remember? No, for those who are wondering, we have no desire to become Amish. But we can and should learn from them.
As I thought of our time with Amish friends, certain aspects of their lifestyle came to mind, and it almost put me to shame that they – even those who are not saved – were in some ways, living a more biblical lifestyle than Christians. For example:
1.) They do without modern technology like electricity. Oh, they have lights, but it comes from their own sources like diesel generators, air-compressors and batteries. I’ll never forget the first time I saw someone hanging a battery operated hand drill on a hook – that had a light bulb attached to it. That in itself is nothing biblical, but what I saw missing in this regard was television. In every home we’ve visited, it’s pretty quiet – except for the laughing of children, the sounds of birds, horses, cows and God’s creation in general. You know, I think maybe unsaved Amish enjoy God’s creation more than some Christians obsessed with technological gizmos and being virtually inseparable from TV, iPhones and such. How about turning off the TV on occasion and remembering what real life is like? It does a body good, trust me.
2.) There are no clothes dryers. They hang their clothes outside on a line and let the wind dry them. They smell clean. No artificial chemicals dousing their clothes with lab-tested, man-made odors. And it’s free. You want to talk about being good stewards of money?
3.) The Amish love to visit. Conversation. Enjoying the company of others. Pure hospitality. In the Bible, hospitality is a huge thing. Read the book of Acts. Not these days. I can’t remember the last time a Christian family asked my family over for supper, or a simple visit. That’s sad.
4.) The family table. Oh man. Supper in an Amish home is home-cooked, fresh and hearty. How many Christians throw something in a micro-wave and zap some chemically manufactured gruel for the family to eat? Seriously? I don’t think everyone does that of course, but how many do? Where has the effort gone, the care and love that should go into the family meal? The family gathering, the family time together? I can honestly say I’ve never left an Amish home hungry and dissatisfied, either with the meal or the company.
5.) Gardens. Virtually weed-free. Kids work hard because they’ve had a strong puritan work-ethic instilled in them. Fresh vegetables grown for the family, by the family. Enough said.
6.) Cooperation. Multiple families often get together and do mundane, outside chores that need to be done for one family. It gets done quicker and there is fellowship, exercise and everyone benefits. People work hard for others, and they enjoy it. There is a leisure in hard work.
7.) Family time. Without all the distractions of modern life, and there is plenty of it, you can see it in their faces, hear it in their laughter and see their hearts expression in the care and concern for others. I’d rather sit in the home of an Amish family with children holding spoons, waiting eagerly for ice-cream than be invited to the biggest, most popular “reformed/Calvinistic” conference in America. Hands down. There is simple, unashamed, childlike joy, and I have seen it over and over again.
No, the Amish are not perfect. They are not all saved. They will not all go to heaven. But they live a lifestyle that, in many cases, are far more biblical than some Christian circles. We can learn from them, and if we do not, is it not a matter of the sin of pride?