June 23, 2020

The Final and Full Display of the Love of God

Three hours after Sabbath began on Friday evening, June 13, another black man — who didn’t cooperate when he was arrested for a small offense — was killed by a white police officer. Both the public and the prosecutors who have seen the video evidence agree: death wasn’t a proportionate response. Rayshard Brooks died in vain. Was the death of George Floyd not enough? 

The entire world spoke very loudly these past weeks: “Black Lives Matter!” When will we listen?

Adventism rose in the mid-nineteenth century as a breath of fresh air. The promotion of new insights on health, on the equality of races, on a vision for a new world — here and now. The Advent movement was launched by young people who believed in change, starting here and now, and for always.

Have we lost our passion for making the world new, here and now? How many more Floyds and Brookses will it take to move us from our prized passivity?

What can I do as the pastor of a racially diverse congregation in the UN capital of justice and peace (The Hague, the Netherlands)? What can we do as Seventh-day Adventists?

We can fully support the pleas for social justice, both within our church community and beyond it. Is there still a breath of fresh air in our ranks? Is the church really a house of prayer for all people? Do we all have breathing space? Are we all together growing to be more like our Lord?

We aren’t there yet. There are still differences — profound differences — because of race, and there are still other overt and passive experiences of discrimination. 

And it is our youth and young adults who see these inequities most clearly. I grieve when we lose our finest, our best, because of what we don’t address. We are still far off the mark. 

And the mark is this: “From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall … be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places,’ the final and full display of the love of God” (Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9).

Our Lord gave His life to atone for both our hardheartedness and our passivity. He died the death of suffocation (“I can’t breathe”), and since that dark hour on Calvary, many, many others have followed Him, executed on false pretenses by those who cherish power more than truth. 

The lie still is with us. The lie still lives in our faith communities worldwide. But the final and full display of God’s love will offer plenty of breathing space, for all women and men of all cultures, nations, tongues, and peoples. 

Enough is enough. Now is the time, here and now, to grow together to the full stature of Christ in our congregations and structures. Here and now. If we don’t create it here and now, how do we imagine that we will ever walk together on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem? 

We need to get pure, prophetic, and persistent now. For the sake of all people, without exception … through the final and full display of the love of God in us.

Wim Altink is the former president of the Dutch Union, and now the pastor of the Adventist Church in The Hague, Netherlands.


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