Just a thought about the online article, “Irksome Christians
,” by Lee Stobel: I understand about the “in your face” and inopportune moments for spiritual discussions, debates, and witnessing attempts being an issue and how it can be offensive. But the thought did occur to me what Jesus said, speaking when the Pharisees complained about Christ’s followers being a bit noisy about who Jesus was.
Jesus said, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out!” (Luke 19:40, KJV). Maybe these “irksome Christians” are just “the stones crying out.” Perhaps if Christians shared their faith more often there would be less need for some people to choose irksome methods of reaching out.
Regarding the article, “The Invisible Majority” by Jimmy Phillips (Sept. 20, 2007): I can relate to the loneliness that Seventh-day Adventist students on a secular college campus feel during Sabbath hours when the local church ignores them. All week long you crave the spiritual support of like-minded believers. I would rather be openly ridiculed for my faith than endure the indifference that took place week after week when services were over and everyone walked out to their cars and treated me as though I was invisible.
The only exceptions were fellow students like myself, and the Adventist wife of a non-Adventist college professor. After a month of silence from church members, she seemed to perceive my acute loneliness. Eventually she even opened her home to me one summer so I could save on rent.
From that experience I vowed to never, ever allow visitors to my home church go without a lunch invite, even if all I had time to whip together was haystacks (taco salad). Christian hospitality is one of the most important, yet often neglected, gifts in the body of Christ. And for young people it offers a way to establish deep emotional ties between people who often have profound generational, cultural, and social differences. It is sinful to treat one another indifferently.
By the way, I find that minority ethic Adventist groups seem to be more hospitable than my own Caucasian Adventist culture. Perhaps they understand all to well what it means to need a support group. Adventist young people on secular college campuses are a minority culture. If you live in a university town, please make it a point to invite young people into your heart and home on a regular basis. And don’t forget what Jesus said to the surprised people in the judgment who didn’t realize they had ministered to Him in the person of the lonely: “I was a stranger and you invited me in” (Matt. 25:35, NIV).
I have been a family member of the Education Department at California State University, Chico, for the past 37 years. Consequently, I was interested in the article, “The Invisible Majority.” It has been my experience that most Seventh-day Adventist students who attend this university do not wish to attend the local Adventist church, or identify themselves to the local pastor. Perhaps they attend church when they go home, but when they are here they seem to enjoy the freedom anonymity grants them.
Two students referred to me by our local church did not belong here. They chose to take science and religion classes that allowed them to “witness” (noisily confront) their professors. They complained to me about “the godless faculty.” Even these students, however, did not affiliate themselves with the local church or the Adventist outreach program, Sadaven House, that existed at that time. One former Adventist student was so anti-church that he complained loudly and emotionally when I mentioned Jesus, in the context of teaching as storytelling. He transferred out of my class.
Ron Pickle suggests that Adventist college students want five things: membership in a Christian community, the chance to get involved in that community, the opportunity to develop spiritual friendships (what I take to mean a social life with other Adventist young people), spiritual mentors, and a place where it’s safe to be an Adventist college student. In our town we have a number of religious communities that meet these needs. They are not affiliated with, or sponsored by, an Adventist church.
It has been my experience that the students, myself included, who attend a secular university are young people who can best be described as “Adventist survivors.” They are generally fed up with the dogmatic Adventism they have been exposed to and enjoy the freedom provided by a university campus where they are not constantly “ministered to” by well-meaning church members.
Living With Elections
Thanks for the refreshing reflections piece by Juan Prestol, “Things I have Learned About Constituency Elections
” (Sept. 20, 2007). For years Prestol has practiced what he preaches by emptying out his desk and removing personal items from his office before each constituency meeting--ready to be reassigned by the community of the saints.
This is in stark contrast to some church leaders who give the impression that, if not re-elected, they would only leave the building by being drug down the hall while clinging to the water cooler. May Prestol’s tribe increase.
Mountain Home, North Carolina
Another Reading List
“Then I started reading the Review and some articles by Ellen G. White. I was so blessed I read the Conflict of the Ages series (The Desire of Ages three times) Christ’s Object Lessons, The Ministry of Healing, Testimonies for the Church--and of course my Bible several times. Now all I want to read are those books that help me to know Jesus better. When He comes I want to hear Him say, ‘I know you; welcome.’”
Ethel F. Heisler
A couple years ago during National Reading Month I put this quote, from a page torn from an old Reader’s Digest, in our church newsletter: “I would be content if my children grow up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves!” Last Friday I rearranged my home office and somehow that page floated to the top. What a coincidence that Friday evening I found Sara Fordham’s column.
Many thanks for a great magazine that informs, inspires, and intrigues me. Many of the articles bring back happy memories.
Beatrice E. Green
“She’s One of Us”
I just finished reading Kimberly Luste Maran’s editorial, “Copycat with the Green Crayon”
(Sept. 13, 2007), and must write a quick line of encouragement.
She stated very well the same thoughts I’ve had about creeping compromise in Adventism. Some readers “out here” (at least one, anyway; and I know several others) will not denounce or condemn you, but instead agree with you and pray for you as a person with influence in our church.
Esther J. Martinez
Bravo, for “The Copycat With the Green Crayon,” by Kimberly Luste Maran!
I had this editor all figured out (I thought). She looks like a school girl—at least college—and I have identified people her age with the “liberal” wing of our church.
How very wrong I was; she held the line like a true trooper. She suggests that it isn’t always “Adventist” to “blend in” with the world about us. It is noble and Adventist to stand out.
Does this view also include our view about wearing jewelry? Am I legalistic by refusing to blend in? Is wearing it a badge of our freedom in Christ? Or is wearing it a sign I have blended in with the people of the world?
Kimberly Luste Maran writes with vigor. We’re thankful to have her with us.
After reading Roy Adams’ editorial, “A Church Observed”
(Aug. 16, 2007), regarding the church service he observed, I wanted to worship there also. Phrases from his editorial such as; “program never dragged--without hurry or fluster, every item dovetailed into the other”; “doing nothing to call attention to themselves,” “inviting us to focus on someone else--on Someone invisible” and “solemn, joyful stuff” are all elements I recognized as having contributed to a positive worship experience for me. This was true even in a small church I visited with only about four to six members attending. Unfortunately, it seems to me these elements are too often missing.
We can be joyful and solemn at the same time. This does not require entertainment followed by applause for the entertainer. We are “moved” and leave feeling blessed when the service has, as he said, called our attention to “Someone invisible.”
Doesn’t the Creator of all things, ourselves included, deserve our respect and devotion in the form of planning for His worship service? Planning would include our dress, our respect--shown by turning off cell phones and postponing conversations with friends--and preparation for the service.
Thank you for reminding us this can and does still happen. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it happened every week, in every church?