Remembering the Important Things

I have to be really honest with you (which comes as no surprise to those who know me).  There are times of serious frustration in my life.  Frustration with the system I was born into, raised in, and now work for.  A system known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

As I drove to Myrtle Beach, SC, a few weeks ago, I had conflicting thoughts.  IGNITION had been a breath of fresh air last February in Dallas, TX.  Would the sequel offer more of the same, or leave me wishing I had stuck with the original?

I had recently sat through three days of ministers’ meetings where I had heard more about how to minister to postmodern young adults.  The information was right-on.  I just get frustrated (a common thread) at all the talking.  I like to see action.  I want change and while technically a Gen X’er, I resonate with Dr. Tim Elmore’s description of Gen Y—‘I want to change the world, and I want to do it in a year’ (or less).  Change doesn’t seem to happen like that, though.

I realized several things while in Myrtle Beach, however.  I realized and was reminded that change is happening.  Change that is bringing increased health to our church.  There are some really amazing people working to bring about positive change, too.  Reconnecting with my colleagues reminded me of why I do what I do.

This was the most significant piece for me right now.  I realized that I get so focused on how “the system” needs reformation, I lose sight of the people.  I can’t see the trees for the forest, you might say….

God has called us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  That is the foundation of young adult discipleship, transformation, and ministry.  I don’t know how it is for you, but I lose sight of those two commandments so easily.  I forget so quickly that it is simply about loving well… loving God, loving others.

IGNITION, take 2, turned out to be an incredibly rich and valuable experience.  A much-needed reminder of what ministry is all about:  relationships with an amazing Creator God, relationships with those whom I do life everyday. Glacial movement happens over an extended period of time… and I can trust God to bring it about in His timing.

About lisahope

Lisa Hope serves as chaplain at Advent House, home of Adventist Christian Fellowship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and as Director of ACF for Georgia-Cumberland Conference. Lisa loves God, people, deep conversations, being outdoors, learning new things, and anything adventurous!
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One Response to Remembering the Important Things

  1. Thanks for this post, Lisa.

    You nailed a continual sore spot on my spiritual radar… I too get so frustrated with the “system”… that it can sometimes prevent me or distract me from what is important and available at all times — like you said… to “love well.”

    And yet anger is not unholy. God gets angry. Jesus got angry. Anger tells us when something is wrong… it is our warning signal that something is amiss. Jesus was angry at the “system” of His day — the religious extortion in the temple, the heavy yoke of legalism, the murderous scandals of entrapment and the pretentious piety of self-righteous pretenders… just to name a few. He destroyed the “system,” and established a new one based on His new covenant … the GOSPEL of the grace of Christ (read Galatians 1 to see how serious it is to try and preach another gospel, or to add to the one that is).

    So while I’m constantly living in the tension between purpose and policy… between Christ and church culture… I do not want to entirely lose my righteous indignation against ANYTHING that is a hindrance to the Gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle was angry at the legalism that snuck into the churches of Galatia. He even wrote in Galatians 5 that he wished these Judaizers would “emasculate themselves” – personal castration!

    The truth is… the “system” was created to serve the mission. Unfortunately it is often the “system” that becomes the mission — INSTITUTIONALIZATION — serving the system in order to perpetuate itself. I have no problem with organized religion… as long as it is organized around “missio dei” (the mission of God)… but once an organization loses its’ mission it has become institutionalized and it is now only existing to perpetuate itself through its’ system.

    This problem is not inherent within Adventism… it’s a human dilemma. That’s why it is necessary for GOD to raise up people who are lovers and haters at the same time… People who love God, who love others, and are willing to hate anything and everything that gets in between people and GOD.

    Is it possible to work within the “system” and be a catalyst for change? I hope so… Martin Luther tried, however, to change the system he lived in from the inside and he became “public enemy #1.” His apostasy gave birth to an entirely new movement that has allowed us to have printed Bibles and salvation by grace through faith. I’m glad he tried to change the system and save his church… because it caused them to force him out, where he then had a profound impact on the future of Christianity.

    I’m not saying we should apostasize or seek to destroy structure and organization — but I am saying we must, like Luther, know that we answer to GOD and not man and to fight… yes, to HATE, all that is in opposition to GOD’s LOVE.

    The challenge is to know when it’s simply human hatred based on what we don’t like or righteous indignation based on what GOD hates.

    GOD grant us the wisdom to have spiritual discernment!

    (And BTW… the networking in SC was the best part)

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