April 13, 2023

A Step Too Far

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Clifford Goldstein

I had walked into a café; men were sitting around a table. Their open Bibles caught my eye. They noticed me looking, and after a quick exchange, I mentioned that I was a Seventh-day Adventist. They said nothing; they didn’t need to. Their body language uttered contempt.

Recently my wife and I discovered a Messianic Jewish ministry based in Israel. These are Jews who believe in Jesus. Sabbath after Sabbath I’d listen to the stories of how these Jews had found the Messiah (actually how He had found them), and at times I’d pace the floor, almost unable to take any more. These were such Jewish stories so parallel to my own that I could barely stand it.

I contacted them, willing to share my story. Silence. I tried again. Silence. And again—silence. Later a well-known Messianic Jew and my friend for decades, and who knows them, told me, “Cliff, I think Adventism is just a step too far.”

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You meet other Christians, but as soon as they discover you’re an Adventist, things get cool, cold, perhaps even hostile.

I understand it. When approached by a Jehovah’s Witness, or a Mormon (especially a Mormon), I respond to them the way others sometimes respond to us. Of course, we’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, not even close—and so the reactions are often built on ignorance. And that is what frustrates me the most—the ignorance. Knowing what we believe and rejecting it is one thing (at least this leaves open the door to intelligent dialogue), but to be scorned by someone who confuses us with Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons—that hurts.

Since joining in 1980, I’ve had, so far, an incredibly positive experience with the Adventist Church. More important, I believe that Seventh-day Adventists have more light, and more truth, than anyone anywhere else. And it is my love for this truth as it is in Jesus—and this love alone—that keeps me here. As I told some of my Adventist friends, “I have bought the whole package.  And the thing is, I really believe it too.”

But still, this either subtle scorn or outright disdain has been the only consistent negative. I didn’t like it in 1980. And I don’t like it now. But I’d better get used to it. After all, what about when the mark of the beast comes? “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?” (Jer. 12:5).  The negativity is, really, an exceedingly small price to pay for the knowledge of truths so precious, so hopeful, so biblical, and (for me at least) so rational and sensible. Thus, claiming the righteousness of Jesus, “the righteousness of God” (Rom. 1:17) Himself, as my own, I press on in faith, praying that, by God’s grace, I will be always “ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).