I’m a Seventh-day Adventist because of hope. As Wayne Hooper put it, “We have this hope that burns within our hearts—hope in the coming of the Lord. We have this faith that Christ alone imparts, faith in the promise of His Word.”
We have this hope.
1. We have this hope because we believe Jesus is coming to heal our world and wipe away our tears and unite us to him forever.
2. We have this hope because Jesus, who knows our temptations, our weaknesses, our suffering, our trauma, our grief, stands as our advocate, representing us to the Father, and we can come boldly to the throne of grace.
3. We have this hope because Jesus, fully one of us through the power of the Holy Spirit, is the “eternally begotten” Son of the Father, one in being with him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
4. We have this hope because Jesus came to preach the Gospel, forgiving us our sins, restoring us to fellowship with him, and to usher in the coming kingdom.
5. We have this hope because through baptism into his death and resurrection, our sins are washed away and we are brought to feast at his table, a foretaste of the feast to come, where we are surrounded by the saints—the ordinary broken and hurting and healing and beautiful and diverse men and women who make up his church.
6. We have this hope because we believe the church is a continuation of those meals he had with the outcasts, the excluded, the sinners, the poor, those of ill repute, the rough, the scandalous—all of whom he embraced in love.
7. We have this hope because he has called us to live in this kingdom way while we wait for him, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned, clothing the naked, welcoming the immigrant, going to those most in need to live and to love.
8. We have this hope because we believe he has called us to be a prophetic people, able to both proclaim his coming and to live his justice, liberating those enslaved, aiding their journey to freedom and wholeness.
9. We have this hope because we believe he has called us to be a people who heal; and what a wonderful gift that we could give to the world in a time of pandemic if we mobilized all our forces to teach the value of vaccines and opened vaccine clinics in all of our churches to bring it to an end.
10. We have this hope because this Jesus who is coming is the one through whom all things were made. We rejoice in this creation. We honor and respect this gift, seeking to nurture and care for it as Adam and Eve were called to do, especially in an age when beastly powers destroy it and besmear it with abandonment.
11. We have this hope because we are citizens of his kingdom, called to live the values of the Sermon on the Mount, called to separate ourselves from beastly powers and institutions, especially those religious entities that seek worldly power through alliances with corrupt politicians, to create their version of a pseudo-religious state. We are called to renounce power, to reject violence, to lay down arms, to abandon all systems of privilege, to be a prophetic remnant of peace.
12. We have this hope because we see through all history God’s faithfulness. In every era of the “Great Controversy” we see people of every nation holding on to different pieces of truth, seeking God, critically examining what they had received, opening the Bible in expectation of an encounter with its author, who promised to lead them into all truth.
13. We have this hope because we are part of a movement, not a corporation; a movement that crosses lines and borders and barriers, that draws together seekers of every nation, kindred, tongue and people, and we willingly collaborate in the work of the gospel with others who share our values, without fear.
14. We have this hope because the Spirit has been poured out upon us in these last days, as promised by Joel, upon old men and young women, upon young men and old women, and that the Spirit is no respecter of persons, but has given each gifts that are for the common good.
We have this hope.
But we are still here in this world. We hurt. We hurt each other. We say things as the church that grieve and injure those we are called to love and to heal. Like James and John, we jockey for position, and want positions of power and influence, and we play political games in the church and with the world. And we find it hard to admit when we were wrong. We find it hard to confess. After an early period of prophetic witness to justice, Adventists embraced colonialism in Africa, segregation and racism in the US, nationalism, violence, and antisemitism in Germany, tribalism and genocide in Rwanda. We stifled the Spirit of God and went from affirming that a young girl could have the gift of prophecy to institutionalizing patriarchy and sexism. We make pronouncements that wound our LGBTQ+ friends and family members, that disparage their gifts, and we shut our eyes to their presence. We speak of them in words of judgment, not with them in words of love.
We bear the scars of these sins. We have yet to fully repent and commit to restoration. But we have this hope. We believe in one who can cleanse us from every sin, heal us from every trauma, cleanse the memories of every horror. We can stand before him as sinners, yet justified by faith alone. This is the everlasting gospel we are called to proclaim to all the world, and to live in all our dealings with our fellow children of God.
The world is weary, and it is hungry for an encounter with the Bread of Life. The world is hurting, and it needs the Great Physician. We wander about, directionless, and need the Good Shepherd. We thirst for the Water of Life. We long for Sabbath rest.
We have this hope that the church can be a place where these things are found. We have this hope that instead of divisive partisanship the church can be a place of unity through the one Holy Spirit who is poured out upon every believer. We have this hope that it is a place where all gifts are treasured, where differences can be celebrated and can flourish, where we can creatively follow different paths in witnessing in our different neighborhoods to the one hope that we share.