have been privileged to grow up in the Adventist Church. I mean that. Truly. That doesn’t mean that life for me in the church has been perfect. I’ve felt the cold shoulder from members who thought to teach me a lesson—or believed I was a lost cause for decisions I had made (I specifically remember one person telling me I was going to be “lost” because I chose to attend public high school for my senior year). I’ve watched attitudes and opinions contrary to what Christ exemplified tear members from congregations, wounding on all sides. And yes, I’ve witnessed some, seeming to have forgotten we are a Bible-based denomination, blithely and repeatedly quote Ellen White (out of context, mind you) on everything from bicycles to pork and beans.
But as we live amid disaster—as our days on this sinful earth are numbered—I’d rather be here, in this faith, than anywhere else. Why? Because I believe the message of our church correlates closely with Christ’s. Even if I don’t always agree with the method, I have faith that the message is sound. And to be sure, faith is greatly needed these days.
One has but to look at the news headlines lately to know that the end is near. I’m not just referring to the so-called natural disasters that plague us with increasing frequency (droughts, fires, earthquakes, floods . . .). Nor am I referring to legislation that has some all atwitter, ready to run to the hills at the first signs of national laws restricting religious expression. The crumbling of humanity, the decay rife within the population, are occurring at an alarming rate. It is serious and real.
As I write this, the buzz out there centers around the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, the meltdown of celebrities (Britney Spears, Owen Wilson . . .), the (alleged) unethical behaviors of high-ranking U.S. government representatives (William Jennings Jefferson, Alberto Gonzales . . .), and the violent acts of famous professional athletes (Ron Artest, Chris Benoit . . .)—to name a few hot topics. Believe me, Senator Larry Craig, quarterback Michael Vick, and addict Lindsay Lohan are only the “poster children” for more insidious problems—they’re the ones who got caught.
Yes, there are still beautiful things—and beautiful people—in the world. But it is obvious that the sham and drudgery have multiplied. That is precisely why I like my faith—and my church.
As we are inundated with dismaying news—and as we also wade through prison breaks, deal making, “tribe speaking,” superhuman heroes, idol mania, and crime-scene violence this fall—I’m grateful for the good things my church offers.
Does the church have it all right? No. Do we have the right message? Yes.
Living amid disaster is hard. It would be impossible without Christ. And it would be a lot more difficult without a church like mine. One that preaches and teaches Jesus. One that encourages healthful living and spreading the gospel. One that encourages compassion and education. One that wants everyone to meet and fall in love with the Savior.
I’ll be honest. I don’t always agree with what happens in my church—in the pew or in the corporate pulpit. But again, its message is sound; I’ve seen Jesus at its heart again and again. I count that as being privileged.
Where would I be without the Adventist Church? I don’t know. But I do know that I have found God in this church; it has helped strengthen my faith in Him—and I’ll take the warts and wonder of it all any day. Living amid disaster calls for it.
Kimberly Luste Maran is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review.