Introducing “Why I Love Being a Seventh-day Adventist”
During the General Conference (GC) Session in July 2015, I was reading a collection of essays by Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish rabbi, on Judaism and the meaning of being a Jew. He wrote,
What is involved in being a Jew? Duties of the heart, not only external performance; the ability to experience the suffering of others, compassion and acts of kindness; sanctification of time, not the mere observance of customs and ceremonies; the joy of discipline, not the pleasures of conceit; sacrifice, not casual celebrations; contrition rather than national pride.
In an age where “Jews are running away from Judaism and religion,” here was a man who embraced all that he was and his identity. He delighted in the laws—in spirit and in practice—and the ceremonies that were essential in his Jewish life. He firmly believed that Judaism has a distinct role in shaping society and its morality.
As a Seventh-day Adventist, I found it hard to read Heschel’s thoughts without being introspective. We too are a people whose identity is tied to God’s law. In society, we are likely categorized as part of the population who abide by “stricter” standards, and thus viewed as peculiar and perhaps antiquated. Given our beliefs vis-à-vis our contemporary culture, it is not always easy to feel self-assured or unashamed of our identity.
Some of the harshest criticisms of Adventism come from Adventists. I’ve done my share of criticizing too. This time around, though, I choose to celebrate my identity.
As refreshed as I was reading Heschel’s embrace of his beliefs, and thus was able to glean very profound insights on, say, the law, I too want to be a refreshing voice that affirms the wonder that is Adventism.
Our teachings are philosophically sound, harmonious, and practically applicable. Adventism is more than an idea; it is a way of life.
What is the essence of Adventism? A union of faith and works; a holistic worship from the mind, body, and soul; a time-sensitive mission with a global scope. Adventism sees no conflict in “If you love me, keep my commandments.” It needs not only an intellectual faith but also the manifestations of that faith in physical reality, such as in food and time. It presents a daring challenge of daunting magnitude: a loud cry preparing the world for Jesus’ second coming.
Adventism has the audacity to call for an unconventional life—a holy life—in this present world. It is a worthy ocean to throw myself into, and thus, “Why I Love Being an Adventist” was born.
Editor’s note: Josephine’s thoughts on this topic, written during the GC Session, are below. We will publish additional perspectives from around the world in the coming weeks. Readers are invited to submit their own reflections on “Why I Love Being a Seventh-day Adventist” for possible publication. Learn how here.
 Heschel, A. J. Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996).
Why I Love Being a Seventh-day Adventist
I belong to a community of faith—the Seventh-day Adventist faith—that is presently having its quinquennial, worldwide conference in San Antonio, Texas. I am not in San Antonio, but I too want to celebrate my identity.
I love being an Adventist because it gives me a sense of identity as an individual and as part of a people. It sheds light on who I am in the eyes of God and on what humanity is in the eyes of God. The elaborate plan of salvation as shown in the sanctuary tells me the high regard that God puts on human souls and the length and depth of His efforts to redeem a seemingly hopeless race.
Moreover, being an Adventist tells me where I am in human history and, subsequently, my role here on earth. It comes with a high and ambitious mission that requires every bit of talent and dedication.
Sanctity of Time
I love being an Adventist because it teaches me the discipline of quietness and rest. The gift of the Sabbath, the sanctity of time, tells me that humanity is not here just to do, but also to be. More importantly, to be with God. Silence and stillness is not easy to master, especially in a hyperactive world, but the Sabbath comes every week, wooing me to practice and enjoy true rest.
This precious time provides a space for awe, reverence, and wonder in my life. And I have come to believe that a life without wonder is an unhappy one. The moments when I am overwhelmed with beauty and grandeur are most refreshing, and in the Sabbath, a door is opened to access the wonder that is God.
I love being an Adventist because I have many opportunities to be reminded of my relationship with God in tangible ways. The opportunities come whenever I eat (or don’t eat), drink (or don’t drink), and work (or don’t work). I love that a relationship with God is not just a mental assent but a day-to-day reality. I learn that any loving relationship has requirements, and the fulfillment of these determines whether a relationship grows or deteriorates.
I love that God has required something of me. Among His commands are to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with Him. It elevates my existence and dignity as a human being, knowing that I can do something to please God. He is not indifferent to my works.
Everything I do and don’t do, every initiative and restraint, is an opportunity to say “I love You” and “You are Lord over me.” Obedience infuses every aspect of life and gives meaning to daily, sometimes mundane, things.
I love that Adventism demands something of me. A faith that is not worth giving all is not worth having, and a commitment without requirements is questionable. Adventism believes in something more in me, calling me to a life that is not ordinary, and I gladly respond, Yes!
This article was originally posted on Josephine’s blog: http://www.josephineelia.com/2015/07/02/why-i-love-being-an-adventist/