OPEN LETTER TO FORMER SDAs
Dear Former Adventist:
SO SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY, you decided you no longer identified yourself as a Seventh-Day Adventist. Something happened inside you and you decided you had had enough. And off you went. Before you start to think that this is another appeal to try to “connect” with you and guilt-trip you back into church, let me clarify that this is not the case. I’m not writing this to try to get you to go back to your SDA church. In fact, I’m not even trying to get you back into any church at all. But before I tell you why I’m writing this, let’s start at the beginning.
Hi. My name is Luisa and I’m a former SDA. My last time in Sabbath School was in the spring of 2004. I identified myself with this denomination from the ages of 17 to 26, but 6 years ago, I decided it was over between us.
In all fairness, I was a hollow Christian. I had never really understood what it meant to have a “relationship” with Jesus-Christ. I didn’t get it –was it when we prayed for things we wanted? I did THAT. And I went to church on the “right” day and read the Bible sometimes. So what else was there to it? I think I kinda looked like an SDA: I tithed, I went to vespers, I didn’t eat pork/shellfish or drink coffee. And I participated by singing and playing guitar. My church friends were lovely. Everything was peachy.
I guess things started to fall apart when I went off to college. I dreamed of being surrounded by devoted young Christians who would help my faith to grow. This desire did not stem from a thirst for God, but from a complacent reliance on others to feed me spiritually. I went to La Sierra University. Long story short, I realized this would not be the spiritual oasis I had built-up in my mind. And I was spiritually immature.
Slowly, but surely, I stopped going to church. Sadly, during the three years I was there, I did not meet many people who casually talked about Jesus, loving God, or how to live a spiritual Christian life outside of a mandatory worship service. Now, I do not presume to blame LSU for my spiritual stagnation–our spiritual growth is our responsibility. But this was my experience there.
Cutting the Ties
By the time I went to grad school, however, I had started going to church on a regular basis again. I liked the feeling of being an active part of a community. A few months later, I started to date my now-husband. We met in French club—très romantique, n’est-ce pas? Although his background was in Lutheranism, he faithfully accompanied me to my church every Sabbath. He was doing this to please me, of course, but I thought, in typical SDA fashion, that it was only a matter of time before he realized this was the true remnant church. He didn’t seem enthusiastic about attending, but he didn’t complain much, either. At one point, he even said to me: “I’ll become SDA if you want…. But it doesn’t mean I’ll believe all the same things, okay?” Good enough for me—this relationships had potential!
It wasn’t until we got more serious and discussed our hypothetical marriage that it came down to this: either he agreed to raise our hypothetical family SDA or this would not work. The result? I broke up with him. I thought I’d rather be faithful to God (in my mind, being SDA and being faithful to God were one and the same). He did leave me with one question: “Have you seriously studied your belief system?”
Obviously, I had not. “Bible-thumping” wasn’t for me. One of the things that had attracted me to the SDA church was feeling that all religious issues had been thoroughly examined by experts who had settled them into a grandiose apotheosis of truth known as Seventh-Day Adventism. I mean, what a relief! And there were all these handy verses to back up any of the distinctive beliefs. But I decided it was as good a time as any to take a thorough look at SDAism and put this matter behind me. Long story short, following my search and examination, I was convicted to leave the SDA church, basically because I felt there was a misguided reliance on EGW and because I did not agree with its distinctive doctrines. (Explaining all the ins and outs of this would detract from the purpose of this letter, so I will just move on.)
At that point, I felt liberated from all the guilt of not being a “good SDA”. However, I did not pursue learning any more about Christianity, God, salvation, a relationship with Jesus-Christ. I continued to believe in God, but I ended up not going to any church at all. I married my husband and everything was great. But after a short while… I felt hollow (again). And I began to doubt. I doubted the Bible (Were these stories myths? Folklore?). I began to doubt God’s goodness (Why is He so demanding?). My mind continued to wonder and to wander… how can there only be one way? So, then, what did being Christian really matter? Shouldn’t we just be decent people? Etc. And before I knew it, my life and my mind was seeped in sin. But because our Creator is ever merciful and patient, He delivered me. I will save this story for another occasion because what I want to tell you right now is this:
What I Want to Tell You
If you were once SDA and left the church when you became disenchanted or disgruntled, and, along with that, you abandoned the desire for a relationship with God… you are in danger! Let me tell you why. It’s because it is precariously easy to confuse being part of the SDA church with being part of God’s body of Christ! If you’re disappointed with a religious system, know that it was created by PEOPLE, not by GOD. Our Creator is beyond and above religion. If you left the SDA church, your heart is fertile soil for your own perdition IF God’s discernment is not in you.
Do you know who the remnant church is? It’s all of us who love God above all, repent (turning away from sin), and accept Jesus as our Lord. That’s it. There’s no more to it. You need to know that THIS is the TRUTH because there is an active war for your mind, attention, and loyalty… RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT. The devil and his demons are real and they are working day and night, inside and outside of churches, to discourage, and distract you, so you’ll become cynical and blind to sin… in your life and in the life of others.
The gift of salvation is not in a church. Salvation doesn’t come from “keeping the commandments” or observing the Sabbath. Salvation comes from faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone.
HE will seal us with His Holy Spirit.
HE will wash away our sins.
HE will strengthen us and teach us so that we can die to ourselves (our selfish desires) and live for the honor of our Heavenly Father and Creator, and be set apart unto Him in holiness. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of Truth and Life and it sets you FREE–free from traditions and free from a sinful lifestyle.
God is not an inspirational thought on a bumper sticker.
God is not doom and gloom.
This is so important, I have to repeat it: Almighty God is TRUTH and LIFE.
Away from Jesus Christ, you are living in a LIE and your life is DEATH and putrefaction. I tell you all this because you NEED to hear this warning—I know because I was there. I thought I had better, more sophisticated and enlightened ideas than what cheesy narrow-minded Christianity offered. This letter is for you, former Adventist, who is now an agnostic, atheist, monist, or practice the philosophies of any religious/spiritual “path” that is not Jesus Christ.
My friend… This is so important, I tell you three times:
Allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sins and repent.
Ask Jesus to be Lord of your life. Allow His blood to wash your sins away. He came to die for you. Let that sink in: He came to die for YOU. He loves you so much right this second and all the time. He does not want you to be lost.
Do research, seek God out. Do whatever you think you have to do, but don’t just let the world tell you what to think. Ask God with sincerity to show you which way to go. He’ll take it from there.
Do it soon–tomorrow you may not wake up and it may be too late. You know this is the truth.
God is the only real thing in this life.
Love, your friend,
P.S. This letter is not meant to disrespect the many people who love Jesus in the Seventh-Day Adventist church. But, if you are SDA or any other denomination Christian, I encourage you to make sure that you are sharply focused on Jesus … that you are carrying on an intimate relationship with God (seeking His will daily) and that you are serving God according to His will and not according to our own ideas… make sure that you teach your children how and why to love our Creator above all… that you teach them to be holy… that you teach them the truth from the Bible at home and protect their minds from what they’re getting taught at schools. Remember always that being physically present in church is worthless without actively seeking to be sanctified by God.