With the enormous media coverage about Seventh-day Adventists occasioned by the public comments of Donald Trump and Ben Carson this week, Adventists in North America find themselves in a unique position. While delighted with positive news coverage about a handful of distinctive beliefs (read more here) and the benefits of a healthy Adventist lifestyle, many Adventists have realized that this movement needs to be known for more than these.
None of us can know for certain what God’s purposes are in allowing public attention on this movement at this moment, but we can be certain that He ultimately wants this faith community to be known and embraced for more than longevity and our impressive healthcare system.
This moment could be Adventism’s “breakthrough” moment—if we are prepared to seize the opportunity.
I’d like to propose that our unique understanding of the Great Controversy—specifically the story of the sacrifice of Christ at the heart of the “everlasting gospel”—is the reality for which we really should be known.
Seventh-day Adventists embrace a unique awareness of the risk that Jesus took to enact God’s plan for saving humanity. A century ago, Ellen White wrote, “The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal” [Desire of Ages, 753].
Philippians 2 makes it beautifully clear: Jesus “stripped” Himself of all divine prerogatives—risked them all—so that we might be reconciled to Him, and through Him, to the Father. He was willing to lay down His life–for all eternity, if necessary—to reconcile us to the Father.
This good news is offered to all who respond to His love today—Seventh-day Adventists and Presbyterians, Methodists and Roman Catholics, Buddhists and Hindus—well, you get the picture.
At a moment when our culture is decidedly curious about Seventh-day Adventists, shouldn’t we be known for candidly describing the reality of the human condition—and the amazing reality of Christ’s reconciling love? Shouldn’t this be a “distinctive” for which we are also famous?
Our destiny, then, is not only to offer excellent healthcare, world-class education, and longevity, but to remind broken, sinful, stressed-out people of all faiths—and of no faith—that the love of Christ can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime. In His mercy, Jesus invites every human being to experience His healing in each dimension of life. He forgives our iniquities; He heals our diseases; He satisfies our mouth with good things; He restores our harried souls with Sabbath rest. Wholeness, reconciliation, healing—these are the signature realities that Adventist Christians can offer to the world in His name.
A generation of Christian and Adventist Millennials—my generation—has mostly never heard this message, and rarely discovers it in the forms of spirituality they have inherited. Some oftenresonate more with atheists than fellow believers. Like many others, I’ve sometimes felt disillusioned by the public imaging of Adventism as a success story on display in institutions, full stadiums, and rapid membership growth. Even as I found myself enjoying the favorable press this week, I was reminded that we must be known for something even more significant—“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19, NKJV).
I believe the dawn is breaking for this new reality. A new yet ancient message is coming to the forefront of our culture’s awareness. Adventism can be—should be—the movement known for communicating it in the fullest and most life-giving ways.
Wholeness, reconciliation, healing—these are gifts of grace that Adventists are privileged to share with the world. That news came home to my heart this week when my friend Shawn texted me this beautiful prayer:“Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul” (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, 159).
This is headline-quality news, and the unstoppable anthem of Adventism. Written by Jared Thumon for Adventist Review