Why are you a Seventh-day Adventist? Maybe no-one has ever asked you that question. Maybe they have, or maybe you’ve asked yourself. But I want you to think about it again for a moment. Why are you a Seventh-day Adventist?
Many of us start answering that question with reference to our parents or our grandparents. We have grown up as Seventh-day Adventists, it is a culture we are comfortable in, it has become like a skin. Yet at some point, most of us who grew up as Adventists have had to make a conscious decision to stay. Hopefully, we had a real and life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. We had to decide that we agreed with what the Church stood for (or at least most of it).
When I ask people the question, many then go on to emphasise the truth or the logic of our beliefs—how the Seventh-day Adventist faith answers some difficult questions of faith or life, like what happens when we die. The wholistic nature of our views is really quite attractive—even beautiful. The way our health message cares for the body, our education system for development of the mind and our hope in Christ’s return feeds our spirits.
For others it is an attraction to the special nature of our mission and calling, the feeling
of relevance and currency to be found in knowing that there is an end-time message that needs to go out to the world. The importance of that message is, and always has been, a key to Adventism. Unfortunately, many take prophetic interpretation further and become obsessed with conspiracies and theories that distract from the mission of the Church.
From time to time, I have thought about who I would be or what I would be like if I wasn’t a Seventh-day Adventist. Given the proclivity of many Australian males to overindulge in alcohol and meat, I would probably be right into all that— sausage sizzles, gambling and beer on the beach. [pullquote]
I think back to times in my life when I’ve felt darkness closing in around me, when I’ve been caught in the most difficult situations, when I’ve felt down, guilty, shamed or at the end of my temper and I’ve experienced the calming and restraining influence of my faith balance me out or restrain me. I know my issues with God—I’d hate to think of my life without Him.
For some of you reading this, you don’t have to speculate. You’ve been there, living a life without God. You know who you were before meeting Him.
Others might be reading this and saying, “The Seventh- day Adventist Church is the closest to the Bible that I have found.” A recent survey showed half of respondents joined the Church due to strong doctrine. The freedom of the Sabbath, the great controversy theme, the three angels’ messages—Adventist understandings are wide and deep. Many of us have searched through other religions and denominations before ending up here.
Another reason we may have joined or continue to stay in the Church is because of the love and care we’ve been shown by church members. The Church is often knocked for being judgemental and hypocritical—and it can be. It is held to higher standards (and should be). Yet some people in the Church who I have met are super loving and compassionate. The thing is that faith and church push people to supernatural feats of charity, love and sacrifice, and hanging out with and being inspired by those sorts of people is a humbling and uplifting experience.
So why did you become a Seventh-day Adventist? And why do you stay?
Are these reasons enough or is there something more? Why are you a Seventh-day Adventist?
I know there are many people, especially among my age group, who are barely hanging on or have already left. With shocking statistics of between 4 and 6 of every 10 people leaving the Church, we need to ask ourselves what value we add to the world, why we exist and what we stand for.
I encourage you to make 2018 the year of getting to know your faith community better, to delve into your beliefs and the reasons for your faith. To immerse yourself in Christ as you join His mission for this beautiful part of the world.