Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Slipping Standards & Reflecting God's Image

I just received a letter from someone that I would like to share. It has questions that you may have asked. I know I have! I have removed any names as the names and location are not imporant. What is important is who we are and how we answer the questions in our hearts!

----
David, I have a few questions for you!! I have seen a shift in our church in the last few years with the standards of the Adventist church. Such has jewery, couples living together, music,[my owntraditional views] ect. I called XXXXXXXXX and talked to him about it, he's the assoc pastor. He said that our church is a GRACE church, I said is there not standards anymore for
our church, and does anything go?? Eatting out on Sabbath, flying, going to the movies, ect.
I sound judgemental, and I'm not, I worry more about the heart of these people, and our church, and the Spirit within. Grace is wonderful, and yea, but is then everything else ok that we do , because we have Grace??
I grew up in the black and white Adventist age, and I know there needs to be growth, and some changes, but when is enough, enough?? Am I off base David? I know 100% that it's our relationship with God, but as SDA, to be in the world but not of the world, how are we different? Is it just the day we keep?? Does it not have to be our heart, and a reflection of
the God we serve?? What example are we to others?
My Husband has given me beautiful jewery pieces, I would not want to be a block for someone else, so I don't wear them around others, or when we travel I do under my clothes. And thats not honest either. I don't want to be judgement, I sound it, just am concerned when
people that have been in the church along time, who I've looked up to now change. And when I went to them and talked to them in a kind spirt, they said it does not matter, our church does not care what we do, things are different now.
David hope you can understand what I'm trying to say, and that is, is there still standards in the SDA church??
Thanks for listening, XXXXXXXXXXX

------

Dear XXXXXXXXX,

Good questions. And I know exactly where you are coming from. Your's is not a judgemental stance, just a place of observation and questioning!

The church is the people. The Adventist church is Adventists. We are the church. So, the answer to "Does the church have standards anymore?" is answered by asking yourself, "What are my standards?" The key criteria for discovering your standards should not be based on "what you do" but on "who you are" inside. Actions reflect what is going on inside, but actions are not the problem. If we give people a list of what to do and what not to do we will result with either obedient robots or rebelious individuals. Focusing on controlling (or even analysing) the actions and looks of the adventists around us will leave us disenchanted.

There is a story that Doug Batchelor tells about a woman married to an Army Lieutenant. Every morning he would give her a todo list. And every evening he would go thru the house checking off everything on the list. She hated it! He died and she remaried a gentle kind man. Some years later she was in the attic and found one of the old lists. Her stomach turned at the memory of it. Then she looked at the list. As she read down the items she realised that she had done everything on the list nearly every day for her new husband, but didn't begrudge him for it. She did it because she loved him!

Our goal must be to look at Jesus. Spend time - countless hours! - staring into his perfect character. Discover in Him who you are called to be. And become that person in your character. Don't worry about what you eat, wear, etc... That is why Jesus said exactly that - "Don't worry about what you will eat or what you will wear!" God will provide those for you. Here's a twist on that text. God will provide your desires for what to eat and what to wear as you begin to replicate his character. But, we can't become like Jesus by saying, "Well what did Jesus do? Ah yes, he ate fish. Better go have a Salmon Salad! Oh, that's right, Jesus wore sandals and didn't own a house! Better sell up and get out the thongs!" Sounds rediculous, doesn't it? But, we do it with others, don't we!? "Look what She's wearing! Look what they are eating. Oh, for shame!" Jesus calls us to look upon his beautiful face - look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. And by beholding... we are changed.

And guess what? The more you become like Christ and speak of him the more others around you - especially Adventists, most of whom truly desire a deeper relationship with Christ - will want to become like you. Then you can lead them to Jesus. And they will change as they behold him. We who with unveiled faces look upon his Glory... are being changed... into ever increasing glory... to the glory of the Father... Makes sense, eh?

God doesn't what robots. He wants people. individuals. And he wants them free. free of guilt. free of to do lists. But, he wants them to be reflecting his image. That is how he created us in the first place - in His image! And his ultimate goal is to return us to that image.

The best thing you can do for your church is become a beacon of Light. Represent Jesus fully. Not by being brazen in what you "do and don't do" but in being authentic in your relationship with Jesus and with others. They will see Him in you! Start a prayer group. Study John with a small group of ladies. Take a box of chocolates to the pastor's wife and pray with her. Open your home to the new Christians in your church for a games night. Find an area in your church that is falling down spiritually and get VERY involved. Do things that lift others up. Represent Christ where you feel he is being misrepresented. Be Jesus' ambasador to your church without saying such! Just life the life because you know the life-giver. Spend rediculous amounts of time with Jesus and he will lead you!!

God bless,

Dave