By Karla Klemm … It is interesting to hear about how church members come into the Adventist faith. The term “unequally yoked” is how we started our marriage as my husband was not baptized as an Adventist. Yet, he embraced my faith community with enthusiasm and attended Cradle Roll when our daughter was old enough. He felt this was important to do for her and I have always loved him for that. He was then asked to be a deacon and then head of the social committee. He told them he wasn’t a baptized member of the church and they said it didn’t matter, which to us showed great love and acceptance. And thus began his journey into Adventism.
As the years went by, and after a move across Colorado, his responsibilities increased after being baptized. When he became the school board chairman, things became more political, and the balance of responsibilities became more difficult as he attended committees into the wee hours of the night, occasionally missing family activities to fulfill his duties. He often endured verbal barrages and the tasks seemed endless and sometimes thankless. While he was glad to serve, it made me wonder why we treat those we should be the most patient and loving with in a divisive way—not the way our Christianity instructs us.
Our words do not always match our actions. Dare I admit, as a dietitian, I remember years ago, teaching a nutrition class about portion sizes with a bag of potato chips as an example. I then proceeded to my office to eat handfuls of potato chips with abandon out of the bag I had used for demonstration. I ate more than one portion!
How often do we give our unhelpful opinions about how others should behave? There are assumptions made about each other that recall the term “familiarity breeds contempt”. Of course, a church is made up of many different personality types, generations, and political views. It’s a wonder we can all balance this “family.” My husband and I remember having get-togethers with new friends from our church and when they realized our political leanings in conversation, it was said “Well, we won’t have much to talk about . . .” and then our interactions dwindled.
We would like to be a part of a church body where if somebody is eating or drinking something we don’t agree with, we don’t judge them for it, where when public health is saying that wearing a mask helps decrease the spread of disease to others, it isn’t met with reasons why it is OK to alter those recommendations, where when we have Bible study, we allow for the hard questions to be asked and not state why we shouldn’t ask those questions, where we can share how we feel about the concerns of the world and not be met with disdain about our convictions, where we don’t use Bible verses to prove and shame each other.
In other words, where love is the driving force for each action and interaction.
Paul says in Romans 1: 11-12, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
How can we make that concept a part of our lexicon?
In her book, The Turquoise Table: Finding Community in Your Own Front Yard, Kristin Schell shares the concept of having a turquoise table in your front yard or neighborhood, sharing the table and a meal with your neighbors, and sharing your story. Loneliness is at epidemic proportions now, with approximately 33% of adults worldwide sharing that they are lonely. How can we put our Christianity into action that builds each other up and make a difference?
As I walk through my neighborhood, a mixture of condos and patio homes with empty lawns, I wonder what it would be like to have garden boxes that would provide produce or lovely flowers to families like a community garden, instead of the thirsty lawns that are rarely walked on, how we might talk to each other more often and have a renewed sense of community, just showing respect and love to one another, not trying to convince each other of anything. Could I be part of the solution by sharing with the neighborhood HOA my idea rather than just musing?
A song by Babbie Mason, titled, “I’ll be standing in the gap for you,” is meaningful to me.
I heard that you were hurting
That you were suffering pain
But I didn’t dare just turn my head
And look the other way
For when your heart is aching
My heart is aching too
Let me help you bear your burdens
That’s the least I can do
I’ll be standing in the gap for you
Just remember someone somewhere
Is praying for you
Calling out your name
Praying for your strength
I’ll be standing in the gap for you
I would also add other verbs to “praying for you” in this song that involve actions. For example, make you a meal, help you clean your house, fix the brakes on your car, listen to your story. The list would be endless. Shall we make sure that when we talk about something, our actions square up as well. The results will be worth it.
“The dichotomy of the human spirit is that we long to be more but we also long to be the same.” (Victorious Living). This conundrum can paralyze our efforts. Let’s not let it. Let’s work to turn our longing into acts of service. I think it will be worth it!
–Karla Klemm writes from Grand Junction, Colorado, where she and her husband David are members of the Adventist Community. She is a certified dietitian and works for Mesa County Public Health. Email her at: [email protected]