Bigger than the bubble


“It’s barbaric. It’s absolutely barbaric.”

To be truly missional we must step outside of our own Adventist circle . . . The world is so much bigger than the bubble of Adventism.

Few would describe controversial Sydney radio broadcaster Alan Jones as the voice of reason, yet his comments on the death sentence of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran resonated with much of Australia. The calls to “bring them home” were many but ultimately unsuccessful, with the Bali Nine duo executed by an Indonesian firing squad on April 29.

Not three weeks later another convicted criminal—Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—was sentenced to death by a US jury. The lawyer for the executed Australians quickly spoke up, calling on the nation that so fervently campaigned for the lives of two of its citizens to again denounce the death penalty. And yet, for the most part, the country remains silent. 

Granted, the crimes of the Bali Nine duo and the Boston bomber were vastly different. The end result for the convicts, however, will likely be the same. This seems a little inconsistent.

I can’t blame the average Australian for keeping quiet. After all, you won’t find any #savetsarnaev posts on my Facebook page. Also, he’s American. That’s not a knock at the United States. People in general just have a predisposition to protect their own. Bonds based on country, culture or community run deep, as do those centred around social networks or sports teams. Faith, however, creates the strongest bonds of all.

This is both a blessing and a curse as strong bonds also foster strong biases. I don’t know about you but I’m inclined to react far more when I hear an Adventist has been killed in an accident as opposed to somebody else. But shouldn’t it really be the other way around? Sure, an Adventist who suddenly passes away is tragic. But isn’t the man or woman who dies without a relationship with Christ the greater tragedy? 

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying we shouldn’t support or stand by those who are closest to us. But “if [we] love only those who love [us], what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If [we] are kind only to [our] friends, how are [we] different from anyone else? Even pagans do that” (Matthew 5:46,47).

In recent months I’ve been referred to a doctor, a real estate agent and a restaurant simply because he/she/it was Adventist. This bias towards our own needs to be reined in, for two reasons:

1) Being an Adventist doesn’t automatically make somebody better at their craft. I consider myself a writer of sorts. But if you were working on a book and had a choice between me or Max Lucado to serve as co-author, who would you choose? 

2) To be truly missional we must step outside of our own Adventist circle. We can’t only attend church-run socials, only support church-affiliated charities or only speak up on church-related affairs. The world is so much bigger than the bubble of Adventism. 

I don’t write as somebody who has this balance all figured out. Far from it—the majority of my friends are Adventist, I work for an Adventist organisation and the only churches I step into are—yes, you guessed it—Adventist. 

This isn’t so much an article as it is a personal plea and prayer, one perhaps you’d like to share in: “God, help me to stand by my fellow man, not just my fellow Adventist.”

Linden Chuang is assistant editor of Adventist Record—digital.