The Adventist Advantage

February 26, 2014 | Martin Weber

“Don’t curse the darkness; light a candle.”

End-time Adventists can find value in that time-honored advice. As the world’s moral midnight deepens around us — greed, lust, war, oppression, rebellion, unbelief — God has entrusted our church with a saving message of grace and truth and a healing lifestyle of love and hope. But let us beware of arrogance because Jesus warns, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48 NKJV).

Seventh-day Adventists are significantly advantaged over those of other religious groups — but do we appreciate it or even realize it anymore?

Our pioneers certainly did. Electrified with the blessed hope of Christ’s soon coming and their discovery of the Sabbath, the sanctuary and other fundamental Bible truths, they sacrificed their possessions and themselves for the sake of our Adventist message and mission.

So what has happened to us in 21st-century America? About half of our kids and grandchildren abandon the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Some congregations are becoming hospices rather than maternity wards. Why?

Is it petty legalism on one extreme and a lax liberalism on the other? Traditionalism for some but loss of denominational identity for others? Institutionalism for some administrators but congregationalism for lay professionals impatient with cul-de-sac church committees? Authoritarianism at the top and autonomy at the bottom of our denominational hierarchy?

“No worries,” some say. “The church is going through!” Exactly what this means we shall discuss in an upcoming column. Meanwhile, ponder this: Does the treasure of truth God entrusted to Adventists give us immunity — or greater responsibility?

In this monthly column I hope to facilitate a conversation that includes a searching and fearless moral inventory of where we are as Northwest Adventists versus where God wants us to be. This won’t be a gripe session — we’ll be solutions-oriented, in view of our Adventist advantage. Rather than condemning the darkness around us and among us, let’s strategize about how Christ’s light of loving truth might illuminate our communities through our churches.

Here’s where I’m coming from, in terms of personal perspective: I believe that among all faith groups, Seventh-day Adventists are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of our confused and hurting world. That’s quite a statement, but I think it can withstand scrutiny.

Well, exactly what is our Adventist advantage? Here are seven core elements:

  1. Sabbath rest in Jesus, who invited us to rest in His finished work on the seventh day of creation week and then again on the Sabbath after securing our salvation at Calvary — Seventh-day Adventists celebrate life and new life in Christ every week.
  2. Our sanctuary message proclaims that when Jesus rose from the dead, He went somewhere to do something for His people. Specifically, He entered heaven’s temple to serve as our real-time High Priest in touch with our daily need for pardon, purpose and protection (Hebrews 7:25).
  3. Our view of life after death doesn’t reduce us to disembodied spirits floating off by ourselves; we’ll all go to heaven together at Christ’s triumphant return as a newly embodied community.
  4. Our concept of final events facilitates closure, in which sin will be eradicated and not eternalized in hell. This follows a judgment that explains and vindicates all God’s dealings as wise and loving.
  5. For a postmodern world craving identity through a shared story, we offer the Great Controversy narrative that encompasses our fundamental beliefs in the timeline of God’s own story with us.
  6. A holistic life healthier and longer than non-Adventists, as National Geographic magazine celebrated by proclaiming Seventh-day Adventists as one of its “Blue Zones” of optimal wellness.
  7. A messenger from God who gave our church eight natural remedies that comprise our holistic lifestyle; Ellen White also envisioned both our health and educational systems — astonishingly now the largest and finest in the Protestant world.

No other denomination offers a theology, worldview and lifestyle that compares with ours. Indeed Adventists are enormously advantaged. So why are we prone to preoccupation with trinkets and trivia, arguing about wedding rings and music rhythm while the world desperately needs our living, loving message and mission?