Why Am I A Seventh-day Adventist?
A friend of mine recently told me that a preacher came to his church and asked the youth why they were Adventists. One of the youth replied, "Because I love Jesus," to which the preacher replied "Yeah, well the Pentecostals love Jesus too. Next!" Some where undoubtedly impressed by the preachers candid approach. Frankly, I was disappointed. However, this experience was certainly good for one thing: It encouraged me to ask myself the question, "Why am I an Adventist?"
I know why I am a Christian. It is because I love Jesus. And I "love him because he fist loved [me]" (1 John 4:19). But all sincere Christians, regardless of denomination, love Jesus - so is this a good enough reason to also be an Adventist? Or am I supposed to have a more profound and eloquent response? Is the cross not good enough grounds to be an Adventist? As I thought about this I was reminded that the only element that separates one denomination from another is their understanding of the story of scripture which I call their God-story. So if I am an Adventist it must be because I find our understanding of the God-story to be the most logical and rational of any other denomination. However, the problem I have with that statement are the following nouns: understanding, logical, and rational. All of these nouns describe an intellectual and factual reason for being Adventist. And while I believe in the intellectual aspect of spirituality I also believe in the emotional and experiential. So why am I an Adventist?
First, allow me to say why I am not an Adventist. My journey has led me to one very simple conclusion. This conclusion will be a blessing to some and an offence to others. I cant help it. That's just the way it is. As Winston Churchill once said, "“You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” So why am I an Adventist? Well, its certainly not the people. From time to time I find myself having to get away from Adventists because more often than not they get on my nerves. Is it the church structure? Not at all. I have never been much for politics. Is it our church culture? If there's one thing that erks my nerves more than anything its Adventist culture. I have tried to divorce myself from it as much as possible though some elements linger on. What about our history as a denomination? Its interesting for sure, but full of chapters I wish weren't there (1888 anyone?). And speaking of 1888 I find the Adventist church's adulterous affair with mistress legalisma to be one of the most appalling attributes of our history and culture. While I am personally witnessing the Adventist battleship making a U-turn back to the true gospel we have a long ways to go and the journey there is not always a pleasant experience.
So why am I an Adventist? One reason and one reason only: Our God-story. This conclusion will be likewise offensive to some and exhilarating to others. Once again, I can't help it. I began by stating that I am a Christian because I love Jesus. But is that a good enough reason to be an Adventist? Yes. It is. I am an Adventist because I love Jesus as well. I love Jesus for one reason only: He loved me first. It is that love for me that prompts me to tell others about Jesus. I want the whole world to know how loving God is and have not found a God-story that shows me the love of God quite like the Adventist church understands it. Not only that but I have not found a God-story that is more emotional than this one. Though the theological lens of Adventists theology I have come to see God in such a loving way that it never ceases to amaze me. Time and time again I have found myself weeping at the revelation of his love and mesmerized at deeper revelations of his grace. To this day I continue to experience newer and richer insights into the love of God I never thought were there. I have tried to look at God through the lens of other theological glasses but all of them fall short of lifting up Jesus in the same way that true Adventism does.
So why am I an Adventist? I'm an Adventist because I am a Christian. I am a Christian because I love Jesus and I am an Adventist because I love Jesus. His love has so captured my heart that I want to tell others about it, and the God-story of Adventism captures that love closer than any other theological system I have found. Is our God-story perfect? Do we have a flawless theology with no room for improvement? Not at all. We have much to discover. But I do believe, in the most politically incorrect way, that Adventism approximates the biblical story of Gods love, grace, and work for mankind in a much finer way than any other theological system around.