During my 30 years of pastoral evangelism, I have been asked many questions. Questions like… Which day is the seventh day? Are the Ten Commandments binding? Questions on the heavenly sanctuary. We have become quite proficient in answering questions on various beasts, diet, dress, and other biblical themes. But, I wonder if a new question is being asked of us as Seventh-day Adventist Christians in these last days?
A recent study released by the Pew Research Center shared that 50 years ago, about 90% of the American population were Christians. In 2020, that had dropped to 64%. If the pace of decline continues, the projection is that by 2070 the Christian population will be 35-46%. We have already sensed this change in the culture wars of our country as larger portions of our population move away from Christianity.
That brings me back to the question of whether we as a Church are actually answering the questions that are being asked of us. An increasing number of people have moved beyond the idea of a Christian God, let alone the various theological interpretations.
I want to suggest that the question many are asking of the Church today is, “Does your relationship with Jesus lead to a fuller, more satisfying life?” After all, that is the promise that we share about Jesus. He came so we could have life and have it more abundant. Do we as Seventh-day Adventist Christians live a more abundant life? This question is not answered by the visiting evangelist, the pastor with his powerful sermon from the pulpit, or the Sabbath School teacher. This question makes each of us the evangelist. People will look at our lives to see if we are living in abundance.
What would an abundant life look like? It seems to me it would be a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Does your life reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If someone came into our homes, churches, schools, or church boards, would they see the fruit of the Spirit in action?
Perhaps Christ’s Object Lessons says it best: “It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time [‘the darkest period of Earth’s history,’ p. 414] a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy and truth …. Those who wait for the Bridegroom’s coming are to say to the people, ‘Behold your God.’ The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character, they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them,” pgs. 415-416.
What a powerful sentence: The last ray of mercy, the last message of mercy to be given “is a revelation of His character of love.” That message will make all of us evangelists answering the question of God’s character and the abundant life of those who follow Him.
What questions are you answering?
Southern Union | February 2023