July 12, 2006

Wish List

1519 page5 caphave a wish list for Seventh-day Adventists. As we act on these items, we will be better Christians and a better witness.
1. A just people. When the prophet Micah put the question “What does the Lord require of you?” his immediate response was: “To act justly” (Micah 6:8).*
Concern for justice runs through the Scriptures. The Old Testament, especially in the prophetic writings, comes back to this theme again and again. Doesn’t this seem strange? Shouldn’t God’s people, because of their attachment to Him and religious observances, make admonitions to justice unnecessary?
Not at all. Religious people can be blind to principles of elemental morality. They can talk so much about Jesus that they neglect the Jesus who comes to them as “one of the least” (Matt. 25:40). The “more important matters of the law,” said the Master, are “justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23).
We Adventists do not always act justly. We show preferential treatment based on the color of a person’s skin; or on their age, gender, occupation, or country of origin. I wish for a church in which justice and fairness govern all our dealings.
2. An open community. The people who meet Jesus, I believe, will be “like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth” (2 Sam. 23:4). They will be open and transparent—to God and to one another.
What masks we put on! How concerned we are to impress our neighbors! But we don’t fool God.
I wish for a people free of phoniness, who tell it straight and live straight.
1519 page53. A kind people. What would you rather be, right or kind? “Knowledge,” wrote the apostle Paul, “puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1).
By and large Adventists are upright people. Many people know and admire us for our high standards. But do they also think of us as “the kind church”? When someone is in trouble, do they think of Adventists as the people who will help them out?
Jesus was a kind person. He was “moved with compassion” as He looked out on broken humanity, like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36, KJV). And He acted to help them.
That’s the sort of church I’d like to see.
4. A people of the Book. Yes, a people grounded and fortified by the Word; a people who feed on the Word; and a people who live out the Word.
“The world is too much with us,” lamented the poet Wordsworth many years ago. How true in these days! The world comes to us—we don’t have to go to it. It invades us through our senses; it’s all-pervasive.
Our only defense as followers of Jesus Christ is in daily study of and meditation with the Bible. Think of the difference it would make if each of us changed our habits so that every day we spent more time with the Bible, Ellen White’s writings, and spiritual material than with the world’s messages—its newspapers, magazines, television, and movies.
I long to see Adventists return to being a people of the Book.
5. People who live, look, and feel great. That’s the Lord’s wish for us (3 John 2), and we can, by His grace, approach that ideal.
No, I realize that we don’t all start from a level playing field: hereditary and other factors give some of us an advantage. But to a large extent we can be masters of our destiny. We can act on what we know. We can change!
Adventists’ biggest area of need, I believe, is to exercise. You don’t have to embark on a crash course; just get off the couch and out from behind the steering wheel. Do what the Lord created you to do: Walk! You’ll look better and feel better. You’ll be better.
6. A people who put Jesus first, and last, and best in everything. The items above don’t follow a particular order, but this one is special. This is what it’s all about: it’s all about Jesus.
Jesus means grace: He was full of it (John 1:14). Of giving. Forgiving. Second chances. Taking time for people. One-on-one conversations.
Oh, for a church like Him! Impossible? Listen: “All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen” (2 Cor. 1:20, NKJV)!†
*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations come from the New International Version.

†Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.