Faithful and fit for the mission
The most powerful argument in favor of any religion is how it improves the quality of life of those who practice it. Church, after all, is not just a collection of doctrines and teachings. Church teachings should practically and positively impact the believer’s health and spirituality. As Seventh-day Adventists, it is a fundamental belief that “we are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness” (Fundamental Belief #22). The Lord desires for His people “to walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) and thus “prosper and be in health, even as [their] soul prospers” (3 John 2).
When healthier, we possess clearer minds and sweeter personalities. It makes loving our neighbors and serving God better when our bodies can support us in our ministries on top of our main job.
Raised a secular Jew, Clifford Goldstein writes effusively how he thanks “God for Seventh-day Adventists and what they have taught me about health.” Now the editor of the Adult Sabbath School Study Guide, Goldstein learned about the health message at the Wildwood Lifestyle Center (Adventist Review, Nov. 2019, p. 49). He became an Adventist in 1980.
Rapid Mission Growth
If the growth and development of Adventism have been consistently rapid, we owe it to our better witnesses and healthy missionaries. Collectively, the Adventist ways of life,
such as tithing and sacrificial giving, forward the Church’s mission in spreading its doctrinal message.
Our emphasis on Christian education also “facilitates the development of both individual church members and gospel preachers” (George Knight, Lest We Forget, p. 192). We thus understand how the religious faith and lifestyle package that the Lord has guided our leaders to follow have connections to healthy believers and even corporate growth of
The World Takes Notice
Health experts, too, have noticed the Adventist advantage. They cite lower risk for lifestyle diseases, even cancer, and a longer life expectancy among our people. As of this writing, print and social media brim with such health articles. Always they cite vegetarianism among other key factors, including these “religious” reasons: the Sabbath as “weekly date with God,” and Love in Action through volunteering, humanitarian, and mission work.
“If they can do it, so can you,” says Dan Buettner.* Teaching health on our behalf, they are almost saying, “Here is the [Adventist] way, walk ye in it” (Isa. 30:21).
Fit to Reach the World for Christ
In 2020 the World Church initiative is Reach the World: Faithfulness in Christian Lifestyle. The goal is for every church member to commit to our calling of being “a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with biblical principles in all aspects of personal and social life” (Fundamental Belief #22). But having a Bible-based doctrine and healthy lifestyle are not the most important issues. The purpose is to point others to Jesus Christ, the Savior. Salvation is only in Him; the solution to the problem of sin, sickness, and death is in Christ alone, who is the “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:16).
Live Like Him
Our prayer is for the Spirit to guide us to pattern our lives after Him, to possess the discipline of Christ. Jesus is our ultimate role model even in diet and exercise (He walked always!). He kept the Sabbath rest, and went about doing good. His lifestyle was characterized by love, compassion, service, prayer, sacrifice, holiness, and complete obedience to the Father. His joy was “in the uplifting and redemption of fallen man (EG White, Steps to Christ, p. 77).
To live and love like Christ is to “Reach the World” for Him. As Christians, this is our ultimate reason for being.
Lastly, my fellow believers, this won’t be easy. But His commands always have a promise: He will “not forsake His faithful ones” (Psalm 37:28); He will “prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity” (Proverbs 3:12); He will be with us “even unto the ends of the earth” (Matthew 28:20).
Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Growing out of scriptures that paint a compelling portrait of God, you are invited to explore, experience and know the One who desires to make us whole.