The Uncontainable One
Do you see what God is saying about Himself? The earth is not his seat, his backrest or armrest; it is His footstool. All of this globe is only the ottoman in God's celestial living room suite. He is so great, so grand that there is no house (or church, for that matter) that can contain God.
I am a non-smoking, non-drinking, non-shellfish-eating, non-jewelry-wearing, Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventist Christian.
Yet I find that I am out of step with a lot of people who would describe themselves the same way. I think it has a lot to do with our thinking about why we live uniquely in this world.
Some of us argue from the bottom up rather than from the top down. What do I mean? We begin looking at everything and judging everyone from our limited perspective.
Here's how it typically goes: I am convinced and convicted that the Seventh-day is indeed the Lord's Day. I am equally convinced and convicted that He didn't change the day of worship because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Then I read James 4:17 which says, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
The next thing I do is to now make my experience everybody's experience. (When I do that, I'm arguing from the bottom up.) Now I question the sincerity of every Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Episcopalian and Catholic pastor, priest or minister.
I'm arguing from the bottom up. I'm making my experience, my journey with Jesus normative for everybody else. Because I have been convicted of these truths, if anyone claims to be a follower of Christ and doesn't live like I live, I conclude that they must be a fraud.
A TOP-DOWN PERSPECTIVE
Suppose we try on another perspective? How about the one shared with us in Isaiah 66:1: "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool : where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?"
When I read this verse I realize that the box of my denominational affiliation is too small to contain God. (Now I'm looking top down.)
With the billions of people that live and that have lived since a Baptist (William Miller was a Baptist, never a Seventh-day Adventist) preached the 1844 message, I have to believe that God "who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" has found a way to save people besides those He saves in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Come now, let us reason together. God is using us, but we ain't the only folk He has and is using!
Somebody then asks, If God is still saving people in other churches, why am I a Seventh-day Adventist? I got two answers for you:
LIVE ACCORDING TO YOUR CONVICTIONS
1. Because this is where He called you to be. That's right, God's journey for you has you here. And your job is to testify of the joy and freedom you have in Christ as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. You were called to call others to the liberating truths about what the Bible teaches about death, diet and the Lord's Day of worship.
Did you notice that I said "testify"? You can always share what the Lord has done for you. That's a world away from deciding where the Lord can't be and what the Lord can't be doing in other people's lives and churches.
Otherwise, how do you explain the lives that are transformed in some of these other churches? Prostitutes, pimps, predators and drug pushers become men and women of God who minister, mentor and help mend shattered lives and heal broken hearts. Will we like the Pharisees attribute the Lord's works to the devil?
BE HUMBLE & LET GOD BE GOD
2. The second reason why you need to remain faithful to your SDA convictions and simultaneouly exercise humility is because He's God. God is Sovereign. He can do whatever He wants to, when He wants to, how He wants to and with whomever He wants to
Habakkuk's complaint in Habakkuk 1:12-13is not unlike that of many SDA brothers and sisters. The Sovereign Lord had declared that He was going to use the Babylonians (Habakkuk 1:6). It's like Habakkuk was saying, "We're bad, but we're better than them!"
Sounds like some vegetable eating Sabbatarians. We aren't taking the Gospel as we ought, but Lord, You aren't allowed to use people with less knowledge of doctrinal truth than us! I know we're not doing what we should be doing, but, Lord, you can't use them!
Last time I checked, God was still on the throne. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are His ways above our ways and His thoughts above our thoughts (Isaiah 55:7-8).
God is in our church. Hallelujah! Let's be faithful. By His grace, let us live in accordance with our convictions.
But God is not ONLY in our church. And again I say, Hallelujah! So let us be humble and teachable.
I am learning that God likes to hang out wherever He is welcomed. He can be here on a Saturday. And when some soul sincerely seeking the Savior goes to church down the street on a Sunday, the God I serve is fully within His sovereign right to meet them there. I am fully convinced that when they invoke His presence, praying with sincerity of heart, "Come by here, my Lord" He actually shows up.
Be faithful. Pauls says it this way, "Hold fast to what you have attained" (Philippians 3:16). Then be humble (James 4:6). God is moving in ways beyond our board, business and executive committee meetings, beyond our constituency and General Conference Sessions. I am thankful that He thinks it not robbery to grace us with His presence when we convene. But the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient God is also working beyond the confines of our faith. Hallelujah!