Joseph Bates and James and Ellen White—founding leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church—were radical supporters of societal issues that were divisive in their day: all were active in support of the abolition of slavery (which led to the US civil war) and Ellen White spoke to the largest crowds on the abolition of alcohol through the Women’s Temperance Society.
There are some Adventists who have found a public voice on domestic violence, climate change and religious liberty, in many of the countries of the Pacific. It is good to be concerned about what others are concerned about. Hopefully, we can give a credible biblical perspective on the issues, based on personal action.
Our pioneers spoke to issues that mattered to people in society. They supported current causes. Their focus was the last day gospel message to the world but they also knew that justice and good living were real concerns that needed to be addressed in practical ways. They brought a Jesus-centred and biblically principled focus to the issues of slavery and alcohol. Meeting practical needs from “a God perspective” is why our denomination started schools and hospitals.
As Adventists of this generation what are the societal issues that you and your contemporaries care about? What are the issues that you give your money to or actively support and could speak up about? What issues that mattered to Jesus and the Bible prophets could we bring a biblical perspective to? Poverty, domestic violence, climate change, child protection, racial discrimination, justice, lifestyle diseases, prison reform . . .
When Jesus and the prophets spoke about the issues of their day, it was divisive. They shared their perspective to give an alternative viewpoint—to give a God perspective. Could we have the courage and wisdom to do that today?
Community engagement and connection is important. God is interested in the things that add value or take away meaning for every life. When we speak and proactively respond to societal issues, it shows that we reflect the heart of God and have relevance.