The people perish
I recently read an article entitled “Churchgoers keen to take a pew despite their disbelief” in the Sydney Morning Herald online (January 7). It left me stunned. Andrew Burnard has been attending church every week for at least 13 years, yet says he doesn’t believe in God or a literal resurrection. He represents, according to an Australian National University poll conducted in 2009, up to a quarter of church-goers in Australia.
That number is staggering. I was tempted to dismiss the research with thoughts like “Adventists aren’t like those mainstream denominations. We have the truth.” But maybe we should be quicker to examine ourselves. How many individuals in our church family have doubts, questions or don’t even believe in God? Would they dare to admit it? Would we?
While I have never believed God didn’t exist, there was a time when I was only going through the motions of church attendance—my faith was stagnant, inactive. But it wasn’t something I shared with others. On the outside, I was fine!
The thing that brought me back to an active, flourishing faith was a vision—a glimpse of God’s purpose for humanity.
Solomon said “Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).” Our churches are dead when they have no vision. The Christian church seems to have lost its direction a little. It tries to be relevant and appears weak, it tries to be hard-line and appears out of touch with reality. As Adventists we tend to have all the answers but it seems we have lost the thing that drives us. We have the map but no petrol.
God’s vision of salvation was clearly demonstrated through His life on this earth. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, to heal the broken hearted and set us free from the literal, physical, spiritual and/or emotional chains that bind us.
Are we living God’s vision for our lives, to be His hands and feet or are we waiting for our church to run the next program. Our personal focus should be reclaiming the lost and healing people—church members or not, we all have problems.
Ours is not a faith that just encourages us to be nice, vegetarian and keep the Sabbath (although these are all important). It should be an all-consuming, self-sacrificing love that causes us to go broke for His Kingdom. Maybe if we lived and preached that, it would answer a lot of questions, both inside and outside the church.
Jarrod Stackelroth is assistant editor of the RECORD.