Being in Adventist ministry my entire work life means that I’ve moved a bunch. Some Adventist workers have had to move a lot, but I’ve only had to move a bunch (which is less than a lot). The eight times we’ve moved each had its own unique challenges, especially when it comes to finding a suitable place to live.

The first two times we moved we were assigned housing both at Adventist boarding schools. But from then on, it was up to us. Move number three was a bit unique in that the conference I was moving to did not invite me to bring Jana along to look over the call and find housing, so I bought a small three bedroom condo in San Diego without Jana being present to look it over. Fortunately, Jana was very gracious about it. It did help that we could pick carpet and tile color after the purchase, but I learned then that it’s never wise to make that sort of decision on your own if you are married!

As we continued in the work and moved more times, I learned that when we looked for houses together, and then later still when we began to take our children into consideration, it became very obvious that each of us valued something different in a house. One feature or another would catch one of our fancies, and they, only rarely, turned out to be the same features that were special for all of us. So we had the same end goal in mind, but the things we each found most appealing about a given housing opportunity always varied. But, in the end, we found a way to make whatever our choice ultimately was work out just fine.

If you were to ask any 10 faithful Adventist Christians what authentic Adventism was to them, my hunch is that you’d get maybe 10 different answers. That may be because there are different parts of being an Adventist that really hooks into a person’s soul that may not resonate the same way for another person. Oh, we’re all on the same track—we have the same goal in mind. But different things might bring different joys to different people.

For example, some of us find Adventism precious because we truly can give ourselves a break once every week to lay aside all our stresses and struggles and rest. I imagine that of all the commandments given in the desert to the soon-to-be-wandering Israelites were greatly surprised they could actually have a day when they did not have to work—they of former slave status that had no concept of resting on a Sabbath.

For others, it might be the comfort of knowing that those they love whom they have lost are asleep. Still others will be grateful that God does not punish with eternal hellfire.

I imagine that one of our dearest and most cherished hopes is our belief that Jesus is coming soon. Some of us are tired of this world and want to go home!

Some of us are desperately in love with Jesus, and want to do all we can to live for Him.

So we can all be one as Adventists and yet still love different things that bring us joy, all the while appreciating and loving all the other wonderful things it means to be an Adventist.

What I am most uncomfortable with is when one of us tries to enforce our view of what it means to be a true, faithful Adventist on our brothers and sisters. Some even point to specific periods of time and observe who we were back then and say, “this is what we should be today.” But a careful study of our history will show that there was much development of our church and its structure and doctrines over many years. It’s true that we still have disagreements about what some of those “old days” meant in terms of authentic Adventism, so maybe pointing to different eras of the church may not be so helpful.

May I posit one suggestion? It’s not meant to settle the question: what does “Authentic Adventism” mean? Rather, it’s a starting point and perhaps even an ending point. If we don’t start and end with at least this, then all of the stuff in between can be used in unhealthy ways.

Just three short sentences from Jesus—who is the head of our church: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples (John 13.34-35, NLT).

I want to be that authentic.

Mic Thurber is the RMC president. Email him at: [email protected]