The daffodils are exquisitely yellow in my backyard just now, and I am tempted to rhapsodize about the joys of bursting buds and surging sap. But half a world away, those who share my Adventist faith are gathering fuel for the coming winter, harvesting crops, and finding warmer clothing.
I speak and write in English, a hybrid language owing much to French, German, Latin, and a dozen other tongues. But millions who read these words will gather what meaning is conveyed in at least 14 languages I neither read nor understand. In Heaven’s plan, their faith is not dependent on the eccentricities of my mother tongue.
I drive a car to church each Sabbath, and voice complaints about the rising costs of gasoline. But for millions of my brothers and sisters in Christ, the miles between their homes and their places of worship are measured one step at a time across savannahs, through jungles, down crowded urban streets. The fuel they need is found in the fellowship meal they share after the worship service.
I hail from peoples with long roots in England, Italy, and America. But for millions of Seventh-day Adventists, it is difficult to think of these nations without also remembering the follies and the conflicts that have marred their own homeland’s peace and joy.
When we survey the things that could divide us—languages, cultures, national histories, even the cycle of the seasons—it is a wonder from a human point of view that this remnant church exists at all. Many other faiths have not attempted what our Adventism calls us to: they celebrate instead all that is local, unique, particular, or ethnic. But the organizing principle of this movement has never been nor ever will be the commonality of our life experiences. A world-circling faith will find its sole and satisfying center in the Lord who is not known in just one language, in one culture, or in one national identity.
“He himself is before all things,” the apostle Paul wrote centuries ago, “and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1:17, 18, NRSV*).
When you pray, invite God’s blessing on fellow believers around this globe who do not look like you, speak like you, eat what you eat, or sing as you sing. Intercede for their faithfulness to the Lord, who is the great One we have in common.