It is Sunday, June 5, 2022, 3:44 p.m. I just arrived from Spain in St. Louis, Missouri (USA). I'm taking my hotel elevator up to the 17th floor with a couple from Zimbabwe. They have nothing to identify them as Adventists, but I know they are. It is something you feel (has it already happened to you?). I speak with them. Yes, they are Adventists and here to attend the 61st General Conference Session.
There are different colors, languages, customs, and ways of dressing and worshiping … but all are united by the same God and one hope, with the same feeling in the heart, and linked by the same invisible thread of faith.
As Adventists, we are privileged to be part of a global family, and events like this remind us we are not alone in our churches, facing giants on our own. We are not “Adventist islands,” as much as we sometimes feel, or want to be, that way. We are not alone in the challenges that lie ahead, and we should not be! God has provided a body—a group of people that, with different gifts, personalities, capacities, and forms, can glorify Him, sharing that we have come out of darkness into light—proclaiming that the grace of God is infinite (see 1 Peter 2:9–10).
Hugs are seen in the halls; smiles; reunions; people you meet for the first time; impressions; smells; new flavors. It is beautiful and inspiring.
Tensions are also perceived in the sessions; comes and goes; hustle; nervousness; lack of agreement; distant opinions. It is natural and real.
Yes, all of this is also part of who we are, and we must accept it—embrace each other even in our differences—especially in our differences! “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32, NIV).
God does not want us to have a uniform thought; that for which He longs is that we take “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, RSV).
You Are Not Alone
I invite you to feel and believe in that human (and divine) warmth of being part of a global community, which has strengths and weaknesses yet seeks God in prayer. Have you prayed today?
We are not a perfect family, but we have the desire for God to perfect us in Christ and that "the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:5–7).
Delete that feeling of “Adventist loneliness” from your heart. I know what it is. I know how it hurts. I know at some point in the future, I will experience it again, even in my own church. However, I must remember I am not alone. Believe it and let me repeat it one more time: you are not alone. I invite you to tell someone else today—now! Call him or her and express it. Perhaps it is the spark of life or encouragement that person needs today to move forward and not lose faith.
The next time you share an elevator with someone you don't know, don't talk about the weather; look for a way to create a connection in which the Holy Spirit can work. And who knows if, in this way, that person who still does not know Jesus may begin to experience, too, that he or she is not alone.