We choose to belong to a faith group because we recognize a need for community.
While many people say they are “spiritual but not religious,” we believe part of acting out one’s faith is joining others on a spiritual journey—sometimes known as “organized religion.” While living as a part of any community with other people can be sometimes be a challenge, the support and mentoring that come with community far outweigh the challenges and can benefit a person in so many ways throughout throughout their life.
We belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, an international Protestant denomination with some 20 million members around the globe. Here are some of the reasons we’re Seventh-day Adventists:
A focus on Jesus. The Bible has two sections: The Old Testament and The New Testament. The Old Testament points to Jesus. The New Testament explains Jesus. Overall, the Bible describes the creation of the world and God’s loving gift of his son to redeem a fallen world. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Jesus, who died for our sins and rose from the grave, will one day raise the dead and take those who accept his gift of salvation home with him to heaven to live forever.
Sabbath rest. The biblical book of Genesis says God created the earth in six days and then rested on the seventh. Creativity takes energy, and we creatively work six days a week in our careers, household chores and errands. Since we were lovingly created in God’s image, our designer knows how we were made to operate. We too need a break from work. That’s why, as is found in the book of Exodus, God gave his children 10 commandments, and the fourth was to rest on Sabbath. While the day of rest was changed to Sunday over time due to political reasons, Seventh-day Adventists choose to rest on the biblical Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. During this time, we rest from our work, enjoy our family and friends, and come together as a community to focus on God.
Education. People are empowered through education, both for learning about their world and for developing a profession and career. The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates more than one hundred colleges and universities around the world and more than 2,200 elementary schools and high schools. Also, many Seventh-day Adventist university students have taken a year out of their studies to serve as a teacher at a mission school in a region where children otherwise wouldn’t have access to decent education.
Health. Seventh-day Adventists are the longest-living people group ever studied. Even the United States’ National Institutes of Health is funding an ongoing study of Seventh-day Adventists through Loma Linda University in California to find out why they live on average up to 10 years longer than their fellow Americans. Results of the study are regularly published in leading medical journals and reported in international media. Seventh-day Adventists have been the focus of longevity in National Geographic magazine and in the book “The Blue Zones.” Largely due to lifestyle choices such as a healthful diet and Sabbath rest, Seventh-day Adventists are able to take their gift of life and serve God and others for a long time, and live healthy and happy lives well into their older age. The denomination also operates the largest integrated Protestant network of healthcare organizations—175 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics.
Benevolent Aid. While the tens of thousands of Seventh-day Adventist Church congregations worldwide each have their own charity programs, the denomination corporately operates the Adventist Development and Relief Agency from its world headquarters. The non-governmental organization uses donations and grants to implement projects that promote self-sustaining support for dis-enfranchised groups or those facing poverty. It also sends supplies and needed support for people living in the wake of disaster situations. Just as Jesus helped people in need, ADRA’s mission is to be the arms and feet of Jesus in the modern day.
Religious Freedom. No one should be forced to believe a certain way or in a particular faith, and that’s why Seventh-day Adventists strongly promote freedom of conscience. The Church in 1893 launched what has now become the International Religious Liberty Association, the largest organization solely dedicated to religious liberty. I’m not aware of any other denomination that is stronger in promoting freedom of religion, which is one of the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
If you’re conducting research to determine which religious faith is best for you, we invite you to consider Protestant Christianity and specifically the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It’s a church with people who aren’t perfect but who follow the principles of the Bible and welcome others seeking community on their spiritual journey.
(photos courtesy of Ansel Oliver)