|N THE MIDST OF THE CHAOS THAT DESCENDED ON THE HAITIAN capital in the wake of last January’s earthquake, Fox News’ Orlando Salinas accidentally stumbled onto the compound of the Seventh-day Adventist Auditorium Church in the capital. There he found a group of Adventists in full-service mode. Not waiting for the distribution of aid, he said in the two-minute report, they were pooling their resources to help their own members, as well as “strangers around the neighborhood” (www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/28427041/haitians-helping-haitians.htm#q=Haiti+++Seventh-day+Adventist+church).
Where is the Adventist who wasn’t cheered by a story like that?
Whether we like it or not, people see Christians as advertising billboards for God. And, indeed, we are. Everything we do (or in some cases, fail to do) affects His glory. I rejoice inside when I think of the work being done by Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and our local Community Services centers. Whether or not they receive notice in the media, we can be sure their actions do not go unnoticed.
The point I’m making here is that as Adventists, we cannot avoid being observed (see the devotional beginning on page 14 for a continuation of these thoughts). To use the words of Paul out of context, we’re “a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men” (1 Cor. 4:9).
People are noticing what we ourselves sometimes may consider little things: the way we do “business,” if you know what I mean; our adherence to the health principles that we have touted for more than a century and a quarter—are we still faithful to them? (see the cover story on page 18); our stance on military service—are we still holding firm to principle or beginning to slacken; our response (or lack thereof) to the vexing moral issues of our times; our adherence to the doctrines that define us—the sanctuary, the law, the non-immortality of the soul, the Sabbath, the Second Coming.
The Sabbath and the Second Coming—these two tenets effectively define our identity as Adventist Christians, and people expect we’d be alarmed—even just a tad—when either of them comes under attack. The theory of evolution attacks them both—directly (the Sabbath) and indirectly (the Second Coming). So why did important pockets of Adventists simply shrug the shoulder over the evolution events of 2009?
It was the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, with all kinds of scientific presentations and celebrations by evolution proponents—even by some Christian churches. And the issue is why so many of those Adventists best qualified to respond to the avalanche of “scientific” propaganda choose to maintain the deafening silence that we heard?
But even worse than the silence were the muffled noises from some quarters actually in support of the prevailing scientific status quo, even questioning the fundamental biblical notion of a literal six-day Creation. The small effort made by Adventist Review to counteract the tidal wave might have been strengthened considerably had many of those best qualified to speak felt convicted along the lines we took.
Observers are bound to notice that in so many areas of current biblical, scientific, and moral concerns and conflicts, Adventists are virtually silent; and that it’s other folk, other Christians, who are carrying the ball, who are doing the heavy lifting, and who, as a consequence, are receiving the biting criticism and scorn.
But in all these areas we’re modeling. And people are taking notice—of our words, our actions, or our silence.
Roy Adams is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published March 25, 2010.