I’m not a member of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church, but I’ve been attending one for the past year. I’ve gotta say, I don’t agree with everything in their doctrine, but I’ve never felt so strongly the love of God emanating from any other pulpit. Talk of the love of God, sure, but here I actually feel it.
I’m sure it’s not every SDA church. In fact, I’ve been to two or three others that were a little weird, one in particular that creeped me out and was pretty out of touch with the world around it. But right down the street from my apartment is a place that accepts people just as they are, provides healing for the hurting and hope for the cynical (that’s me!), offers genuine hospitality, and teaches how to radically love like Jesus the people outside its four walls.
I know the SDA denomination is viewed with suspicion and that some mainline Protestant denominations declare it is a “cult” (I put that in quotes because Christians define cult differently than the academic world does), and that it cannot be counted among the ranks of Christian denominations. But when you actually read its doctrine, the principle bullet points are the ones about which all evangelical Protestants concur and find the most important. The reason the whole denomination has a bad rap is because some Adventists claim their denomination is the only group going to heaven because of how they practice their faith. I know of certain Baptists who think the same thing, but I wouldn’t let that make me think all Baptists are part of a “cult.”
SO WHAT if Adventists do a few things differently like go to church on Saturdays and emphasize healthy living. Many are in medical professions, eat vegetarian/ vegan diets, and abstain from drinking alcohol and eating pork or seafood, which probably explains their significantly longer lifespan. They don’t require that of me, a non-Adventist. I don’t think they even require that of their members although they do learn in Sabbath School that it is best.
What I love is that they take a day every week to rest and enjoy the beauty of community and God’s creation. I love that they are multiethnic. I love that they are proponents of social justice and that they constantly serve the community around them. I love that every time I leave there, I feel loved by God instead of beaten down by him, and that that gives me the internal motivation to love others better.
If you’ve heard bad things about the SDA church but haven’t researched it yourself, it may be time to take a real look. Not to convert (I’m not converting), but to just be a better-informed person. You can find a summary of what they believe here. And like I said before, local SDA churches are kinda hit or miss, but if you’re lucky enough to live near one that talks more about relationship than the rules, you may have just hit the jackpot.
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