By this, they’ll know (Part II) / Kemy Ogendi
The way we treat our own, within the family, says a whole lot about who we are. And for those who’ve never met our Father, how we act is Who He is.
Have you ever been around a group of people who made you feel super uncomfortable? I have. But here’s the thing, they were kind to me – the outsider. But I saw the way they treated each other, I saw the way they bullied or belittled their own and it didn’t sit right. Left a weird taste in my mouth. Whenever I’m around this kind of social circle, my first thought is: dang, they seem nice but if THIS is how they treat each other, I don’t want to get any closer.
On the other hand, a friend of mine once told me that his mother became an Adventist because she spent time with an Adventist family, she saw the way that they loved each other and she wanted in. Because “it reeked of something different”.
There is something beautiful about a group of people who are loving from the inside-out. People who clearly love and respect each other. It “reeks of something different” and it leaks out onto everyone around them.
There’s something off about a group of people who only show love and respect from the outside-in. It’s kind of creepy when a community is super invested and interested in outsiders – but dismissive and degrading to each other, behind closed doors.
The way we treat our own says a lot about who we are.
In John 13:35, Jesus told His disciples that if they love one-another – outsiders would see this and know that they are followers of Jesus. And then, in Acts 1:8, Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit and told them to share Gospel… in Jerusalem, and then Judea, Samaria and the end of the earth. First home, then outside, then on to the end of the earth. Want to share the Gospel? This is square one: our families, our friends and our churches.
When we have that kind of love brewing in our own communities, it leaks out onto everyone on the outside.
This got me wondering: as Adventists, what if we learned to be kind to our own? (Our own Pastors and leaders and members inside the church). What if we learned to be patient with our own? To show grace to our own?
What if we empathised with conservatives, liberals and everyone in between – Jesus died for the lot. So, we live to love the lot.
The love that we strive to show outsiders was the same love that we NEED to show the people who are right here with us, right now. Because fundamentally, every human being needs the Gospel – and every human being needs the patient, loving, grace-filled community that comes with it. Even inside the church – with all her housekeeping qualms, theological rifts and administrative scuffles.
Now, I’m not talking about some magical utopia where everyone always agrees and conflict is always absent. But perhaps, because we’re grown, conflict is more mature, more constructive.
As Adventists, what if we learned to be more open-minded – towards Adventism?
What if we learned to listen in sermons, even when “we’ve heard it all before?” What if we learned to be open-minded towards the things we find familiar? Towards old bible verses and hymns and Ellen White? What if we were simply willing to learn? Instead of disengaging.
What do we have to lose?
The way we that behave here at home speaks volumes to the world around us. The way we treat our own – within the family– says a whole lot about who we are. And for those who’ve never met our Father, how we act is Who He is.