Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, November 16, 2007

Life Expectancy and the Attractive Church

In reference to my last post on a literary work of fiction here is excerpt from another literary work of fiction showing how some ideas interact with others.

In reference to her husbands loving yet unconventional family Laurie says:

You know, parents and children and love come in some strange combinations. I mean your parents can love you and you can know they love you and you can love them and still grow up so lonely that you feel hollow…

Love isn’t enough your parents have to know how to relate to you and to each other. They have to want to be with you more then with anyone else. They have to love being home more than anywhere in the world and they have to be more interested in you then in “snakes and tornadoes” I suggested…[speaking of her parents occupations]

God I love them, their nice Jimmy they really are and they mean well but they live inside themselves more then not and they keep their doors closed. You see them mostly through windows…

You grew up with everything I wanted so bad, everything that I dreamed of having your folks live for you and for each other for family…It’s bliss Jimmy and I am so damn grateful that you all let me in.

(Dean Koontz, Life Expectancy chapter 26)

What strikes me about the above excerpts is how attractive the family is. Others want to be part of that family and are thankful when they become a part of the family. How nice it would be if our church reflected that position. Sabbath school classes where people enjoy the communication, the opportunity to share ideas and listen to other ideas. That is the way I have felt about many of the Sabbath school classes I have attended. That is what I look for in the classes I choose to attend. I would hope for that experience in the other parts of our church experience as well.

Recently my daughter’s youth Sabbath School got involved with discussion of some challenging life situations. I was pleased to see that my daughter was excited about going to Sabbath school and she had prepared some notes to discuss her point of view. Then after our respective Sabbath school classes I found out that instead of the open communication and sharing ideas, ideas were stomped on by those who for some reason think that the miracles of mission stories are the answers to every Christians life. Simply put instead of being a welcoming family it became a fundamentalist dictatorship where the two adults present worked as a team to repress the thinking of the youth. No doubt with the best of intentions. They feel they are responsible to teach the youth what they think the SDA church believes. As with many fundamentalist views they have assumed that they know what the Adventist church believes and that the church is restricted to a certain way of belief.

The point here is not whether the adults in the youth class were right or wrong in their beliefs. The point is that they destroyed the opportunity to create a friendly challenging and stimulating family, which would make the youth glad they were there, and something that would interest others to be included.

Our traditions have in many ways limited us here. Many don’t even know how to discuss ideas without getting upset with someone who holds an opposing view. We have for so long thought that we had “the truth” that we assume anything different then our traditional “truth” is actually an enemy of both God and/or Adventism. We must change our philosophy to allow for discussion, to allow people to express themselves and create the impetus to research things further to either come up with an answer or at least communicate our position based upon reason and allow the others to express why they believe what they believe. Your philosophy and my philosophy may not agree but that does not need to separate Christian families whether physical family or spiritual family. We need to learn to relate to others in such a way that shows we are open and accepting just as our God is open and accepting. Jesus says come and lay your burden on Him we have no business adding more burden upon those coming to lay their upon Him. And of course if we do that we will never create the kind of family that someone would be so glad as to say, “I am so damn grateful that you all let me in.”

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