How the Church Failed Mo
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Mo is a pretty cool dude. I don’t say super cool because, after all, he is my brother and so pretty cool will have to do. (I’m sure such a “theorem” would be reciprocated by a hearty “my sentiments exactly” on his part.) Anyhow, the point is he’s pretty cool.

Image © Lars Justinen from Goodsalt.com

Image © Lars Justinen from Goodsalt.com

Now Candice, my special lady, is awesome. This awesome lady of mine was clever enough to plot a secret reunion between my pretty cool brother and my pretty cool self. She said it was a surprise to celebrate my recent liberation from the tyranny of biblical languages (I just recently finished my last ancient Greek class), but I’m sure that having my mother in town for a visit had more to do with it.

Now onto my main point. Mo and I were raised Seventh-day Adventists all of our life. At the age of 17 I decided to follow Jesus. Mo went a different direction and has stuck to it ever since. For many years I have wondered why he walked away from the faith of his youth. Being highly intelligent, scientific, and analytical would have been a challenge for him,  especially when my father rejected his scientific explanation of where the wind came from and instead insisted, very dogmatically of course, that God had a room in heaven with wind trapped inside. Whenever he wanted the wind to blow he would open the door. Whenever he wanted it to not blow he would shut it. Though I have no proof of this, I wonder if Mo’s brilliant mind wrestled with such an irrational concept, thus planting the seed for a growing discontent with Christianity.

Regardless of what reason (or perhaps reasons) led Mo out of the church one thing is certain: his experience was, to be quite generous, bitter. You see, Mo and I share a craving for authenticity that we acquired from our culture. We want answers, not cliches. We want truth, not opinion. We want a faith that is logical and rational – free from fanaticism, phobias, and unreasonable superstitions. We want Bible, not dogma and traditions. We want relationship, not religion. And most of all, we want honest and open dialogue not absurd, irrelevant, and simple-minded solutions. Authenticity. That is what we crave. And that is what the church failed to give.

You see, Mo grew up in a church culture that told him it was bad to go to the movie theater even though we could go to the elder’s house and watch mindless killing and gore. It was OK, was the message, so long as it is in a house. But don’t go to the theater! Your angel wont follow you in there and if you die there you will go to hell. Irrational, anyone?

Mo grew up in a church that told his lady friends it was bad to wear pants to church, or anything too revealing for that matter, even though every Saturday night half of the members were glued to the infamous Sabado Gigante game-show with half naked women parading their curves on the TV screen for all the choir singers, elders, and deacons to enjoy. Hypocritical, anyone?

Mo grew up in a church where the leaders were only concerned with whether or not you were a good church member. Do you cry yourself to sleep at night because you are lonely and depressed? We don’t care. Just make sure you don’t let your hair grow too long and you have a tie on when you show up on Sabbath. Absurd, anyone? Yes, Mo grew up in a church where the leaders spoke to you when you were in trouble and ignored you the rest of the time. A church that wanted to erase him from membership because he joined the Army even though not a single one of those involved in this proposition had ever sent him a letter of encouragement or called him to offer a prayer. A church where lack of biblical knowledge prompted an “Ellen White said” that was supposed to settle the issue once and for all. A church steeped in simple-mindedness, irrationality, and flat out extremism at times.

For a mind craving authenticity, I conclude that the phonyness was simply too much to bear and the highways and byways of the world, complete with their own set of phonyness, somehow seemed more fulfilling than the dictatorial corridors of his childhood faith.

This, I believe, is how the church failed Mo. This, I believe, is how it fails so many of its youth. It is not because it lacks entertainment. It is because it lacks authenticity. It is not because it lacks programs. It is because it lacks relationships. It is not because it lacks answers. It is because it lacks questions and somehow marginalizes those who seem to have many of them.

Over the years I have come to shed many of the absurd and nonsensical standards of my upbringing and have come to discover a simpler yet infinitely more complex relationship with God. With all of the cultural baggage that my traditional Hispanic culture brought to Christianity gone, I can now see Jesus and his love much clearer than ever before.

I no longer believe that a true Christian is only the one who fits into my brand of Christianity. I have met wonderful Christians who are covered in tattoos, who enjoy the bouncy feel of dread locks, and who go to church without a tie on. I have experienced Hawaiians who worship God in Hula shirts and flip-flops. I have experienced theologians who enjoy sporting a fro-hawk.

I have experienced Jesus among the real, the genuine, and the broken. I have experienced doubts and wrestled with them. I have come to realize that God, the multiplex deity of the cosmos, is paradoxically simple. He invites me to have a relationship with him and to let my life be an outflow of that relationship. As Jesus once said,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22: 37-39.

And as my friend Amir Davis once said, “Do the Ten. Love God. Love Men. Take care of your body. And live your life. That’s all God requires of you.” It really is that simple.

I wonder where Mo would be today if the church had focused on Jesus’ words more than they focused on their own traditional discomforts? What if they had loved the culture instead of demonized it? What if they had shown us a God who cannot be caged, the wild lion of the heavens who cannot be controlled, and taught us to live on the edge with Him? What if they had embraced questions? What if they had let go of the pretensions and gone on the journey of doubt, struggle, and pain? What if they stopped misusing Ellen White? What if they had forgotten the opinions of men and taught us to live by the Bible only? What if they had looked past the long-haired guys, the braids, the jeans, and the baggy t-shirts and shown us the love of Jesus? And I don’t mean shown it to us in a Bible study. I mean shown it to us with a life.

I pray I wont have to keep wondering. I pray the era of the Mo’s will come to an end. I pray we learn our lesson.

But that is not the only point of this article. I also want to take the opportunity to appeal to the Mo’s of today. While the church has failed you, it is still within your reach to recognize that Christianity is extraterrestrial and as such it cannot be defined, contained, or limited by human culture. We may have messed it up, but you can look past our faults in the same way we should have looked past yours. While we may look at the church and find much to criticize. we can find neither spot nor wrinkle in the person of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, I leave you with a challenge from Christian apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias and it is this: “Look at Jesus and ask yourself the question, Can I find anything wrong with him?” The answer may just revolutionize your life.

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How the Church Failed Mo — 48 Comments

  1. Hear what the man is saying church! Counterfeits are not accepted by any generation since the 60's. Questions must be encouraged to keep people engaged. And it is okay to not have the answer! Pray with and love the enquirers and let the Holy Spirit do His job.

    Like(16)
  2. Wow, I am "Mo", and I am speechless. I gave my life to Christ when I was fifty and have struggled with being a good Christian ever since.Just recently I discovered that, what has been lacking is my personal walk and and growing love for Jesus.

    The more I get to know Jesus the more I will want to be like Him. Shouldn't that be our goal?

    What easier way to let everyone know that Jesus loves them, enough to die for them, than to be able share your love for him.

    When I am discouraged the last thing I need is a quick quote from the Bible as you are walking away. Sit, hold my hand, give me a hug, look me in the eye and say "I love you". Isn't that what Jesus would do?

    Thank you for your honesty, I hope that the Mo's of the world will experience Christ's love.

    Like(35)
      • It is not an either/or: that is where people are missing the mark and losing souls for Christ--even if they are only lost for a season.
        Show and live Jesus before you preach Jesus!

        Like(1)
  3. Wow!!!! And there you have it my friends. Practical, honest Christian living. Marcos is telling us! Talk to the young people who've left the church, they'll tell you. It's time we start listening. Precious souls are being lost because as SDA Christians, we fail to have true relationships with each other that has The Trinity 'all up in it'. It's about rules, 'back in my day', tradition, who says this/that, castigation and isolation. I have seen it. I pray that God will help me to have that connection with Him that forges relationships that will make my brother/sister ask; "what can I do to be saved?" Thanks Marcos, I appreciated your article.

    Like(18)
  4. Thanks for your article and its many dimensions. I grew up in that same church that you spoke about, yet I, and from what I understand, you, are still in the church. The church can and should improve, but I think the better option is to equip the Mo's of the world with living proof of what Jesus has done in our lives. Jesus' and Job's examples are clear that the devil can influence and entice, but cannot force the will, so the Mo's of the world need to know that the church may have failed them, but it was their choice alone to fail the church. Many of us are attacked the same way on our jobs, in our families and in society, yet we remain viable because we need the paycheck, the familial support or have no choice but to endure the heartache. I too have Mo's in my family and in my life, but it is clear to me that other things in their life have failed them, yet they remain committed to them, such as alcohol, drugs or unhealthy relationships. I make it a point to love them unconditionally and show support and give encouragement, all while being real and letting them know that God loves them, just as He loves me, a sinner, and that He will hold me and them accountable for choosing to accept or reject that love. The church won't save or condemn anyone, as Christ is judge of us all. I'll continue to pray for your Mo and for mine, as well as our souls. Be blessed!

    Like(19)
    • Many of us are attacked the same way on our jobs, in our families and in society, yet we remain viable because we need the paycheck, the familial support or have no choice but to endure the heartache.

      While I understand what you're saying overall--people who leave do have their own responsibility to bear--the reasons outlined above are horrific reasons to stay in any church.
      Remaining in church because you're afraid of hellfire is no commendable thing. Staying out of fear would preclude growth in Christ.

      Like(3)
  5. Sweet Lord, this so true..... We tend to more follow tradition than being more like Christ, I should know I was almost Mo. But I found Him in a rock song ( My sacrifice by Creed) telling that He loved me irrespective of it all. We should love the sinner and not the sin, living a life that calls others to Him.

    Like(11)
  6. Wow! I was "Mo" 22 yrs ago. Like Mo, I was raised in a SDA home, attended church school, college, and was very active in church as Pathfinder leader, Youth leader, choir member and pianist. Throughout the years I witnessed hipocrasy, segregation, racism and still, I went to church faithfully. Until one day, a younger friend asked "why did God not come himself and die for our sins?" I replied, "He did, kind of because he's one with the Father." That begun my inner questions regarding God and his identity. Somehow, the Trinity as a mystery was not sufficient.

    Later on, I asked the question regarding blood guilt on ourselves...if we have the truth that leads to everlasting life, what about those who don't know anything; do we not have an obligation to tell them? In the church, people entertain each other with feel good songs and call that a "ministry". Come Sabbath afternoon, there's AY where young people again sing songs, play Bible games, and call that "youth ministry". Sometimes, there's special program on health and vegetarianism--"health ministry". All kinds of ministries but not the right one. The only ministry that Jesus engaged in, then later trained his disciples to do the same was preaching the good news of God's Kingdom (Matt:24:14). My sda Christian life was in a nutshell, nothing more than once a week dedication to singing, listening to a sermon, enjoying potluck, AY meeting, then wait for sunset to do whatever. It lacked meaning so I began to pray to God to show me what to do with my life. His answer, was a knock on my door by a Jehovah's Witness. I'm not going to bore you with details of the events that led to my becoming JW, but I can tell you that my spirituality is vibrant and healthy today. The questions I had growing up as sda have all been answered through my constant study of the Bible. Also, today I serve the God of the Bible whose name is Jehovah (Ps.83:18) and follow closely, Jesus' example of helping meek ones satisfy their spiritual needs.

    The problem of young people leaving the church is a global dilema--all church groups are suffering the exodus of the young people ages 18-35 from their midst. All religious leaders are brainstorming to find solutions to tackle the problem but I doubt they will be successful. Amos 8:11-13 describes how God brings on a spiritual famine where young people will rove about looking for but not finding satisfying spiritual food. Verse 13 goes on to say that "fair young virgins and strong young men become faint from thirst". So now, not only are they suffering from a spiritual famine, there is also a spiritual thirst. Clearly, the spiritual landscape looks pretty bleak and it is caused by none other than God himself. When you look at the numbers, you can see the end result of spiritual starvation for these young ones. Atheism is said to be on the rise and climbing. Some say that atheism is going to overtake Christianity! What is more Godless than Atheism? Indeed for these young people the spiritual prospects are not good. But there is hope...church officials can continue to try the old and new ministries to keep the young from leaving but to no avail. On the otherhand, those who are honest hearted might respond to our preaching work or find their way to our website--JW.org.

    Like(3)
    • "...church officials can continue to try the old and new ministries to keep the young from leaving but to no avail."

      Apparently, someone forgot to tell that to 47,000 Pathfinders at Oshkosh last week. Biggest group yet.

      God is still in control...

      Like(14)
    • Hi Emily, I don't know if it's an organization/denomination so much as it is having a relationship/connection to God. You mentioned the exodus that's occurring in all the churches, and it is true; we know of the exodus also in the JW org. People are searching for something, just as they were when Paul wrote those letters to the early churches. I wish you well as we pray for each other to keep the faith, and especially our young people. The only safety today is being under the blood of Jesus, wrapped up, tied up, covered up in Jesus. These are some troublesome times. The church built upon the ROCK will be triumphant. Our duty is to sound the alarm and love, love, love while we allow the Holy Spirit to do its work.

      Like(12)
    • Emily, thank you for sharing your faith journey with us! Thankfully you have maintained a relationship with God despite the bad experience you had growing up but there are so many who dont. Now of course, everyone has their own choice in the matter, but we still need to sit back and chew on how much we as a church often contribute to these issues.

      Good stuff Emily. Thanks for sharing!

      Like(2)
  7. I grew up in the same kind of church too, except nobody had TV. I dread thinking, however, that because I see women in bikinis on the beach where I like to go, that I should tolerate the same amount of skin in church, so as not to be called hypocritical much! There are appropriate clothes for every occasion and place. Black tie is black tie. If you turn up in other clothes you can be denied entry. You can be turned away from court if you turn up in shorts. Get real please Marco. I agree with some of your article and shared it though.

    Like(5)
    • Women do not wear bikinis to church or show anywhere near the same level of skin.

      While you may be right that one can be "denied entry" based on what they are wearing, you forget that what this means in practice is that people will just stop coming. They'll edit you out of their lives.

      I think this is difficult for many SDAs to grasp unless they have significant interaction with people who are not religious and show little interest in it (like in Europe and New England). Pretty soon, you raise your head, if you're lucky, and you realize that nobody around really cares about your exclusive club and its rules of dress and its esoteric concerns.

      For some people that's fine because that's what "remnant" means to them.

      Like(2)
      • Good point, Andrew. I don't think people should be denied entry to church if they're looking for a place to worship or to find out 'what shall I do to be saved.' However, you know when people are wilful, when they are willing to follow codes that apply at their work places or clubs but not at church because they want their own way. Yes, they may stop coming but who says you can save all? The bikini reference was an extreme example. I totally agree that we need to try to reach more non-religious people as those in Europe etc and in doing so, will definitely have to relax some of our tight rules and 'esoteric concerns'. I would very much be interested in a suggestion from you. It is one of my serious concerns.

        Like(0)
        • This is a deep concern to me as well, and I think we have the answer too.

          I don't think outreach to secular societies (like Sweden, the UK, the Pacific Northwest, Germany) is a matter of style only.
          I think it's a matter of message.

          I think we have the answer, in the Great Controversy, to the question of the ages: "Why should I care about God?"
          This is a question about the character of God.
          But I think we've ignored this question in favour of answering a host of other questions we think people are asking.

          I think we have to settle in our minds as a church, who God is. Many (maybe most) or us cherish in our hearts a shared view with the Reformed churches: a capricious, arbitrary God who must be appeased; one whose rule and sovereignty are marked by the use of force and authority. Furthermore, many of use believe that God has a right to be so--because he's the boss!
          So our primary motivator, then, is unquestionably fear. Ultimately fear of hell.

          But secular society has long been inoculated from the fear tactics as far as religion is concerned; and they will not be thus coerced into believing or caring.
          Men's hearts are failing them for fear, and fear, then, is not the antidote.
          It's at this point that many believers turn inwards and write off the world as "waxing cold".
          But I think now is a golden opportunity to get it right.

          I think this message we have is more than just words.
          I think if we really understood our message in the light of the Great Controversy, we'd talk less and act more. People need to see us doing the work of Christ--which is tirelessly working to restore the image of God in man (healing, caring, peacemaking, mending...) and God's creation.

          Like(11)
        • Amen, Andrew! You wrote

          People need to see us doing the work of Christ--which is tirelessly working to restore the image of God in man (healing, caring, peacemaking, mending...) and God's creation.

          When we emphasize externals - as in excluding persons from worship because of their manner of dress - the focus is taken off Christ and put on externals. Think of it: Christ is eclipsed by "modest dress"! Do we dare do such a thing?!

          We may even interfere with the Holy Spirit who is speaking to individuals about an issue. When we meddle there, the convicted persons will conclude that it is only our preference, not a conviction from the Holy Spirit.

          How careful we should be to let the Holy Spirit do His job!

          Like(1)
    • It seems to me that the question should not be what you or I should tolerate, but how we can follow the example of Jesus. We are His representatives on this planet, so His example should be our pattern.

      Do you get the idea from the Gospels that Jesus worried about how people were dressed? Would he turn anyone away today because they did not wear a black tie and dress coat? Would He deny anyone entry into the fellowship of believers?

      Who is it that wants people turned away? Who is it that wants us to look at people's appearance?

      My Bible tells me that God looks at the heart, not on outward appearance, and we cannot know the heart. So is it ever "safe" to turn anyone away? By demanding a certain dress standard to gain entrance into church, could we be doing the work of the enemy of Christ? In turning someone away, could we be doing the work of Satan?

      Something to think about ...

      Like(7)
      • I agree that Jesus should be our model. We know that He became angry with the money changers in the temple and turned them away. We also know that He acted reverently while He was in the temple (even as a child). I'm not convinced that Jesus would consent to people coming to church in beach attire (and yes, Andrew, I have seen that). I fear that in our attempts to make everyone feel welcome/comfortable in God’s house, we completely disregard what God expects from us. We should all be more concerned with what will bring honor and glory to God than with what will offend some people who appear to have no sense of decency, much less reverence in God’s house.

        As ambassadors (representatives) for God some basics are likely expected in how we represent Him in His house. Rock music in church? I don’t believe Jesus would have worshipped in such a place. I’m not comfortable with the message implied by some that there are no limits for how people can dress or behave in God’s house. It is still God’s house and not a tavern where rock bands play. Will we lose some people because they can’t listen to rock music in church or wear beach attire? Perhaps so. These people can easily find other churches where almost anything is acceptable. That may be one reason why we’re told that “… narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

        Like(10)
    • Hi Shorey! Fantastic comment. Allow me to respond briefly. What I am challenging is when people compartmentalize Christian living. It is hypocritical to complain that the girls at church dress a certain way while you are OK with watching a TV show that severely objectifies women (like Sabado Gigante). Christian living is a 24/7 experience of worship in Spirit and truth not just a 24/Sabbath experience. You also make a good point regarding dress and church. We certainly dont want to treat church like the beach but we also need to remember that people are at different levels in their spiritual and emotional health. No one should be turned away from church because they dress a certain way. If someone shows up dressed inapropriately they should be welcome anyhow and loved on. Church is not a fortress for saints or a club for the perfect. It is a community of broken people seeking God together and everyone, regardless of where they are in life, should be welcome. It is by loving others that we spur them to commit their lives to Christ and experience change. We cant do that by turning them away at the door because they dont suit our standards. A young lady at my church was denied entry one day because she showed up in shorts. She was told she couldnt enter Gods house dressed that way. Later on I found out her husband had hit her the night before and she ran away. She had no where to go that night and waited for the church to open to get help. But she never got any help because a well meaning saint thought it was her responsibility to defend God from the woman in shorts. We need to uphold the standards yes, but what we need to do more is be merciful.

      Like(21)
    • I accidentally clicked "like" :)

      The point is that people should not say "we don't want to see women's curves", etc and then deliberately seek them out for viewing pleasure a few hours later.

      Where is the requirement to wear a suit and tie / nice dress to church in the Bible?

      Like(0)
  8. When young people turn up to church, what is more important; the clothes they wear, or the fact that they feel welcome and wanted. My son left the church because he felt unwanted. I don't blame anyone for that, but it made me realise that we can be frighteningly unwelcoming at times.

    I remember visiting a church once where we arrived late. We did not know there was a church in the area and came on it accidentally. We put our heads in the door, only to be told that we were late! We did stay for church, my skin is a bit tougher than that, but I still remember the unwelcoming welcome. If people feel welcome and wanted, they will come again.

    Like(13)
    • Well, again, if God is, if nothing else, particular....

      You see it all comes back to our view of God and His character.

      Like(1)
  9. This is one of the best articles I've read here on this website for a long time.

    I have discovered that there is a subset of SDAs that will never understand what it's like to grow up like Mo and Marco.
    Maybe it's something to do with how they think or process things.

    While reading is article, I can say that I could identify with the author's experience.

    Two points:

    1. It's all about your view of God. If God is a capricious, nitpicking deity who will punish you for not obeying (by sending you to hell--and who are you peon to complain because He can do whatever he pleases) then by all means religion will devolve into a form of appeasement.
    The Pharisees showed us this. Know the rules so you can bend the rules and still be saved on a technicality.

    I also think that many members have lost sight of --or never knew--the import of the Great Controversy; or even knew what it is about (the character of God). Hence I think maybe a vast plurality of our members unwittingly hold to a Reformed/Calvinist view of God and his character and sovereignty. This, in my opinion, neutralizes the unique message of Adventism, and affects how we treat others.

    2. I also learned over time that not everything is/was the church's fault.
    Sometimes culture gets in the way. In fact it gets in the way more often than not.
    It affects how we see God. It also affects how religion is expressed in a given culture.

    Like(10)
  10. This entire subject is not an easy one to deal with and different cultures will look at it differently. While I think we should be tolerant of differences and mindful of circumstances we need also to keep in mind that in every society or culture there are standards and rules of behavior and the church in that respect is no different.

    I don’t think anyone in his/her right mind is going to say that the Ten Commandments are not important and therefore should not be kept. After all they form the foundation on which Heaven is build which is the character of God. In the same way there are common standards which everyone can agree on such as nudity in church will not be tolerated – common sense. But, is it necessary to stipulate exactly what a person is to wear on the Sabbath? To me there should be tolerance within reason. As I have said before the church is not to become a free-for-all orgy and that is where wisdom comes in. Where do we draw the line in the many areas of church life or do we accept an anything goes attitude.

    To me the church is sanctified, set apart, and I believe it should be treated that way but just how to do that is the question.

    Like(4)
  11. One of the things that have kept me in the church all these years was that while there are doctrines there is flexibility within each one. We have a set of fundamental beliefs but there is variance when it comes to specifics and to me that gives freedom of thought which I almost demand.

    Like(2)
  12. It seems to me that you may need to revise your definition of the church. It is so easy to point that pastor, this elder, that youth leader - where are you in the equation? Remember, "We should remember that the church, enfeebled and defective though it be, is the only object on earth on which Christ bestows His supreme regard. He is constantly watching it with solicitude, and is strengthening it by His Holy Spirit.—Manuscript 155, 1902 (November 22, 1902.).
    Trust to God’s guardianship. His church is to be taught. Enfeebled and defective though it is, it is the object of His supreme regard."—Letter 279, 1904 (Aug. 1, 1904.).
    I don't know about you, but I am very careful to try and criticize what Christ holds in supreme regard!

    On another note: So what option do you have? Jump ship to where? Remember Paul's shipwreck typology? (Acts 27 & 28) STAY IN THE SHIP. Any who try to jump ship will perish. This ship will land you safely home. There is no other prophetic movement after the Seventh day Adventist Church. We are the last church - which will usher in the everlasting kingdom of God.

    Like(2)
    • Bill, it seems to me that Marcos implies that we are the church - that means you and I. And the corrollary would be that you and I need to act like Jesus, because the church is His body on this troubled planet.

      There's more to do than to "trust God's guardianship." He has appointed His followers on this earth to represent Him. (Isa 43:10) We are His ambassadors. (2 Cor 5:20) He has given us the responsibility to to preach the gospel to all people. And the "gospel" means the "good news" - the Good News of what God is like, that God who first loved us so we may love Him back. The Good News that He wants each of us in heaven with Him.

      Instead of going out into the highways and byways of life to "compel them to come in," (Lu 14:23) we too often figuratively stand at the doors of our churches to make sure that those who come in meet with our approval.

      Like(11)
      • Couldnt have said it better myself Inge! There is a paradoxical tension between being set apart and at the same time being the salt of the earth. Salt does no good unless it mingles, but how can we mingle when we are set apart? Jesus summed it up best in his own life, as one who lived without sin yet mingled with the lowest of the low in order to call them to a higher experience. Its a difficult balance to maintain but the moment we choose to over emphasize our "set apartness" over our "saltness" we become like the salt that has lost its flavor - useless. This was one of my mains truggles in the church growing up.

        Like(5)
      • Thank you Inge, Christ bids us to follow Him. Look up to Him. If we looked at how brethren behave towards us, we will have missed the target of our Christian focus. Recently I attended a camp meeting in another continent, and sat at a seat - which looked free to me at church - and some local member came FUMING and wanted to move me out - I had the choice to leave and go punish myself in sin, condemning the church on how bad people who claim to be Christians are, hoping the church or the brother could get hurt - as ridiculous as that sounds, or smile back and excuse myself and look for another seat!
        I guess what am saying is that let us remember that the person Christ expects to be a Christian and hence a member of His mystical body is ME. Judgment will be about ME and my God, and not involve the corporate body - as a matter of fact, the corporate body, then called the BRIDE will have made herself ready! (Rev 19:7).

        Like(3)
        • Amen, Brother Bill!

          Let us just be sure that we do not turn people out of seats we deem to be ours!

          (An incident such as you describe happened in my home church a few years ago. The person turned out happened to be the visiting pastor. I got the impression that he changed some points in his sermon on the fly. ;) However, the dear lady who expelled him from her seat didn't seem the least embarrassed.)

          Like(0)
    • I have been reading through and thought that all I would until I cam across this comment "There is no other prophetic movement after the Seventh day Adventist Church. We are the last church - which will usher in the everlasting kingdom of God. "

      There is absolutely no value in this comment. Relationship with God has nothing to do with staying on a ship where you are not welcomed. You don't stay because you fear that SDA are Gods last day church and if you jump ship then you are eternally lost.
      We have boxed God into our theories and think we know exactly how he will act in a given situation. Who says Mo is lost because he rejected the inconsistencies within the Adventist Church. The question is, Did he reject his Lord? I have been an Adventist for over 30 years and can identify fully with the Mos. We focus to much on identity as being prophetic, having EGW, commandment keep church and the likes. No salvation in any of those. Lets focus on Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, Not what we perceive separates us from the rest.

      Like(1)
  13. Inspiring!
    Hello Mo, and all the Mo's out there. Where ever you are I'm saying I love you. Yes, there is a set of Christians today who can truly say, "we love you." This is because Jesus' love has reached us where we were and has changed our lives for the better. We may not understand all that you have suffered or that you may be suffering right now, but what we know emphatically is that God's WORD says that His ears are not heavy that they cannot hear your cry, nor is He too busy that He cannot address your need right now, nor is He too helpless that He cannot EMPOWER you to accept His LOVE for you.
    If you have a NEED, then GOD has a solution. His heart is full of tender love and mercy and He does not want you to feel rejected and lost because you seek authenticity.

    I want you to understand that all I am saying to you right now is because His WORD has been my strength and shield throughout my worst and best life encounters. Reading His WORD has given me a view of Authenticity that only the WORD can give.

    Jesus says that His WORD is TRUTH and it is a liberator and freedom fighter. His TRUTH will always set you free because HE and His WORD are the same. And by the way Mo/Mo's, when you are set free, you are truly free. Then you can sit with HIM and reason with HIM, He won't turn you away because you don't understand His way immediately. That's why He said that He is Long-suffering. Here is where I must tell you what the WORD of GOD says.

    His Marvelous Divine Grace is the same as His Merciful Kindness, by which He exerts His Holy Influence upon souls (all souls that would allow Him) turning them to Jesus; keeping them, strengthening them and increasing their FAITH in Jesus. Through His GRACE and GOODNESS He draws us to Christ; causes us to Know Him and increases our Knowledge of Jesus; develops our Affection for Jesus and Kindles Christlike/Christian Virtues in us.

    God's Love, Jesus' love does not and can not think Evil of you. All He wants to do is to Draw you to Him and LOVE you Forever. Will you say Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, Amen?

    Like(5)
  14. It is extremely sad that as Christians, who should be living for Jesus, we get caught up in the deceptive nature of the Devil. He wants to see us fail. Wants to see us turn our eyes from Jesus and focus more on traditions, rules, and culture than to live for Jesus. It is also sad that as Christians, we lack that close relationship with God and so the fruit of the Spirit is not manifested in our lives (love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, long suffering). If we do not have them, then we cannot exercise them.

    As we look to Jesus our great example, we will realize that He came and died for all of us. None is sinless, but Jesus himself. If we allow Him into our lives every day by studying His word, and praying,
    then we will develop a relationship built on Christ the solid rock so we will treat every one as Jesus
    did.
    Let us be more like Jesus so there will be less Mos leaving our churches.

    Like(3)
  15. Church is the only place where people feel free to flout convention and expect no consequences. or maybe they're looking for an excuse to walk out. You will know the ones who definitely need help from the ones who are simply defiant. You know very well, because they're also defiant in your home!

    Like(1)
  16. Shorey, I think that most young people attempt to flout convention at some time. It is part of growing up. I remember what I used to do at that age. And I am thankful for some very tolerant church folk, who used to smile at my attempts at individuality, then encourage me to be part of the church community. I was asked to be the church projectionist, even preached a bit of a sermon once when I was about 15. I was tolerated in spite of the fact that I arrogantly asked awkward questions and wore fluorescent pink socks. (If you are old enough - you will remember those!) I grew up in a church where I felt loved and wanted.

    I see young people growing up in the church today who are not getting the sort of encouragement that I got. They get criticized for their music, their clothes, and their talk. Of course they flout convention - that is a rite of passage for most young folk. If you come to church and are only made to feel bad, what is the point of coming. We need to give people time to grow.

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  17. The difference to me is that while Jesus loved the sinner He hated the sin. Sometimes He had to go into the mire to pluck a brand out of the fire but he never enjoyed being there, He never wallowed in the surrounding sin.

    Even though Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:22 NKJV) he never did prostitution in order to win prostitutes. He like Christ was always in the business of lifting man up out of the filth and when a person stubbornly chose to stay in the mire after a while He simply allowed the person his choice and went on to the next person to help. That’s the difference, being in the world but not of the world, loving those in the world but not what they do.

    As has been said by another person much wiser than I am, “It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed. Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p 91). That means that we are examples that people look at so If we are in the world as the world is then we are not witnesses to something better – we have not raised them up from the pit of ruin but rather have joined them instead.

    Like(2)
  18. To me there is just no way that the church can or will please everyone simply because everyone is at a different place in their spiritual growth not to mention you have infants to the elderly present so trying to find a venue that will satisfy everyone is not a realistic expectation of the church. I think the essence of the article is that we, as individuals who make up the church, should be so connected to Christ that His love flows from us to each and every person we come in contact with regardless of who they are or how they stack up to our expectations. The problem, again, lies in the fact that not all the individuals who make up the church are connected to Christ in this way and so there will be instances where Christ's love was not manifested in the way that it should have been. In that case some become offended and leave the church, while others continue in the church. The true seeker of truth (the pearl of great price)will not be swayed by this but will continue to seek the truth until he has found it (by the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit). So I think that it is important to overcome the imperfections of the church and it's members and persist in our walk with God, realizing that those imperfections will always be there and prepare our young people to face them so that when they do face them they will not be discouraged and turn away, but will instead rise above them much like you did Marcos. Great thought provoking article, thank you so much. By the way, I worship in shorts every Sabbath...and my Church family loves me!

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  19. AS usual opinions run the gamut. There is no argument that we are all different. I am also aware that the SDA denomination has it's faults as any oganization is likely to have. Several things come to mind in regard to this article by Marcos. 1st the "church" will not ensure your salvation. 2nd God deserves what was referred to in the article and in Matt22:37-40 as the greatest commandment. To me this includes reverance in church. Our actions and dress should not be to attract attention to ourselves, but a form of worship. God deserves the best we can give. We would dress much different for our wedding than a day at the beach. If our thoughts and actions represent our life style and choices outside of the church, it becomes evident why the church is blamed for what is perceived as uncaring and unloving. Yes that does exist but not the only reason for those that leave the church. We have to give account for our choices.

    Like(2)
    • Often, we choose the easy way out. We would rather to throw a quick encouraging Bible verse over our shoulder as we walk away. It is harder to take the time I'm sick, hold someone's hand, and really listen in our church, in general social make things, we often hear how are you? I'm the reply fine! Nobody wants to really hear that I was there to that question. Nobody wants to take the time to listen.. But hypocrisy in the church does speak loudly to why many people leave.

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  20. It is not Mo's lenses we are looking through here. Remember the parable of the prodigal son? Mo is probably so overcome he doesn't see the church and its imperfections. It is the remaining brother who needs to change. Kindly remember that Christ is the Saviour, the Church His agent for salvation and the Bible His indespensible reference manual for salvation. Mo (and all today's Mo's) could have walked away from the agent (Church), the manual (Bible) but never from the Saviour's care.

    John 17:15 "I pray that thou shouldes take them out of the world, but thou keep them from the evil." :17 - "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."
    As the Bible says, it is Gods plan that the Church remains in the world, his word (Bible) as tool for sanctification. Remember the old proverb "Amongst the blind the one-eyed is a king." Where else could Mo catch a glimmer of brightness however small, only in the church. The answer to the problems of the modern day church are, as has beeen from of old, 40cm below our knees. As we pray, God in His mercy will refocus our spiritual lenses from the horizontal to the vertical dimension.By beholding Christ, our (and others) imperfections will be relegated to the lower priorities in the church's agenda to be placed in the hands of true custodian (the Holy Spirit).

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  21. I see that the Spirit of God is given to all of us. People in the church reject the Holy Spirit and people outside the church reject the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Holy Spirit to be the motivation of all our thoughts and feelings is the bottom line and the only way of salvation. This can be done inside or outside the church but it must be done continually for complete success in life. Salvation depends on walking "with" Jesus.

    Like(2)
  22. I married into the Church,I'm a recovering alcoholic who had a much better relationship with Jesus before I became a Teacher,Deacon,Elder,then missing member.The people at the local level are TERRIFIC !I didn't see any help from the conference other than an envelope every quarter,with the offertory readings and a printout of tithe percentages for each church,(up's and downs for every quarter),and a magazine.I still Love God,Love the people but the organization is just cold.Jesus isn't like that ! Praise God for his goodness !

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  23. To Gosaleng......AMEN....U HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD.THE CHURCHES ISSUE IS RIGHT THERE DESCRIBED IN THE STORY OF THE PRODIGAL SON.
    SOME OF US IN THIS DISCUSSION HAVE THE CHARACTOR OF THE Father (letting us come to church in our filthy rags). The brother (who is intolerant of any other way into the kingdom except for the path he has paved (righteousness by works). Wow I believe this story is the sum of Marcos story here.
    May the Holy spirit guide u all. The shaking is here and who will be shaken out.....humm. God bless

    Like(1)
  24. There is a more indepth message than dress and the responsibility of the organization (note i did not say church) to it members in the article. The message is one of relationship. I am not saved because I am an SDA, but because I am in love with Jesus. Adventism is not the key to Heaven or any other religious organization, Jesus is and will always be.
    Organisation can have all their standards and rules, that theirs to have but the simple rule of christ is to LOVE and LOVE always.

    Like(1)

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