|The Undiscovered Country:
Life in the Body of Christ
by Rolaant McKenzie
Some of you may be familiar with Star Trek, a popular science fiction TV series from the late 1960s that had, and continues to have, a significant fan following. 28 years ago, the original crew of the series was involved in the last of six theatrical releases. This one was called Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
The plot of the story involved two great powers, the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire, which for generations had had a hostile relationship that often bordered on war. In this story, for the first time in their history these two powers were on the verge of reaching a lasting peace with each other. However, hardliners on both sides worked behind the scenes to thwart the peace efforts and return to the previous hostile relationship.
At the end of the story, in response to the question, “What’s the meaning of all this?”, Captain Kirk said:
Some within Seventh-day Adventism, who have come to the realization that significant aspects of their worldview simply do not hold up in the light of Scripture taken in its proper context, may even have an intellectual understanding of the gospel. But the ties holding them to the Adventist organization can be quite strong. Family, friends, job, career, and other things provide strong incentives to remain in the system. This is reminiscent of those described in John 12. People who realized that Jesus was the Messiah but chose not to confess Him because it was more comfortable to have the approval of men over the approval of God (John 12:42-43).
Fear of the unknown can be a strong motivation to remain within the Adventist organization. Many who have been raised in Seventh-day Adventism may remember how they were taught to believe that all other churches were “apostate” or “Babylon”, and that someday in the near future members of these other churches would pass mandatory Sunday observance laws and seek to persecute and kill Sabbathkeepers. Christians in other churches were not viewed as brothers and sisters in Christ, but as potential adversaries who needed to be converted to Seventh-day Adventism.
Even if the Adventist is able to say to himself that Sabbath day observance is not required for salvation, he cannot bring himself to say that abandoning it and going to a “Sunday church” will not result in his salvation being forfeited.
No matter the imperfections of the Adventist organization and contradictions of its prophetess Ellen White, it would be better to remain with what is familiar and safe than take a chance associating with those who may become enemies in the near future.
Life Outside Adventism
These kinds of false messages prevent many Adventists from embracing the Biblical gospel. Sometimes even pride or the long investment of time makes it difficult to admit the truth. Instead of leaving, they find rationales for remaining in what they know deep down is not really true. Saving face, whether consciously or unconsciously, takes the front seat and delegates the truth to the back.
Sometimes there is a reluctance to leave because it is hard to imagine life outside the Adventist organization. Fellowship with Christians would seem like entering a foreign culture. But those who have believed the Biblical gospel and passed out of death into life (John 5:24) find that there is an affinity with other believers. This, regardless of previous backgrounds, denominational labels, or ethnicity. While there are differences of belief in peripheral doctrines that do not affect salvation, the Holy Spirit who resides in all true believers connects them in a genuine bond of fellowship.
Fear and apprehension should not prevent fellowship with the community of saints worldwide. While the pride of belonging to an exclusive sect promoting “present truth” would of necessity disappear, what is gained is the joy of being a part of a much larger family. This kind of family described in Revelation 7:9-10:
Some who leave Seventh-day Adventism for the sake of the gospel may be inclined to leave their former religion behind and not look back. This is an easy thing to do, because even a person experiencing the effective salvific grace that comes with belief in the true and Biblical gospel may be tempted not to want to have anything to do with any aspect of their former life in Adventism. It may be tempting to burn that bridge behind while moving forward.
But such an inclination should be resisted. When God brought Paul out of Judaism to belief in the gospel, he did not leave behind his Jewish brethren. His deep desire was to go back to them and share the good news of the gospel with them so that they might be saved. Romans 10:1-4 clearly illustrates this:
As you cross the bridge of Christ to grace, freedom, salvation, and the unity of Christian fellowship, don’t burn the bridge behind you. Remember those on the other side and love them enough to extend to them the life-saving gospel.