“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”—Matthew 5:16, NKJV
Years ago, a young Christian girl entered the doors of a Seventh-day Adventist Church after two young Adventists whom she knew extended an invitation to her. She was away from her family, her friends, and her church for the very first time while studying at a university in the local area. She had already found, and was attending, a Sunday church, but she loved her God so much that it was not difficult to say “yes” when the invitation was extended to visit an Adventist church.
After her first visit, she continued to attend Sabbath after Sabbath and participated in the worship and other activities of the church. She was excited to be among young people her age. She was also appreciative of the love and kindness shown by several of the families who made it their business to cater to students who were away from home attending schools in the area.
Several years into her experience, some of the members found out that she was not an Adventist. At first, their reaction was one of surprise, and they uttered such expressions as, “Well you look like one,” and “You act like one.” However, it seemed as though their tone and treatment toward her changed.
She did not understand what made the difference to cause them to behave the way they did and she pondered whether or not to stay. She also discovered that there were many other members who did not mind that she was of another faith. Fortunately, her relationship with God was strong, and she was not deterred by the behavior of others, so “she shook it off” and kept going.
Thirteen years and many negative and positive experiences later, this now Christian young adult, married, became a mother, and was baptized into the Adventist Church. On the day of her baptism, many of those who witnessed it were once again in shock because all along they thought “she looked like one” and “acted like one.”
Having gone through those experiences, this young woman decided that she would not treat others who enter the doors of her church the same way she was treated. She wanted to be more like those whose actions reflected the character of Jesus and who extended compassion and love to her. She has made it her mission in life to reflect the character of Christ and to encourage and inspire those whose lives He allows her to touch.
By now, perhaps, you have probably guessed that I am the young woman in the story. Yes, I am still here, and interestingly enough, employed by the Adventist Church (that is a story for another time). Every day people are entering the doors of Adventist churches or coming in contact with Adventists in various places around the world. We have a great opportunity to present to the world a Savior and Friend who is like none other. It doesn’t matter how many worship services we attend, or what we say; what really matters is what we do.
When people cross the threshold of the doors of our church, there should only be one thing they see, ever, and that is the light of Jesus in us. Whatever their background, financial standing, appearance, culture, or religion should not matter. It should matter that they experience the love of God, and, when they leave us, they should be able to say “Did not our heart burn within us while [they] talked with us on the road, and while [they] opened the Scriptures to us?”—Luke 24:34, NKJV.
You are the “secret ingredient” in this Adventist experience to give people a reason to want to stay or leave. What can be said of your treatment of others whom the Lord sends into our church?
Ednor A. P. Davison is the communication director for the Atlantic Union Conference and editor for the Atlantic Union Gleaner.