Sabbath School commentary for discussion on Sabbath, December 8, 2018.
How is it possible to find unity in diversity? How can we expect individuals of different ages and gifts with a wide variety of racial, social, educational, cultural, and gender experiences to come together as a cohesive and integrated group? What is the common denominator capable of melding such a collection of entities into one, organic whole that functions together for the well being of the group?
This week’s lesson focuses on the visible unity of the church that is seen in the lives of the Christians and the mission of the church. This kind of unity is stressed by the death of Christ on the cross. The death and resurrection of Christ are supposed to produce unity in the Christian church, and in turn, practiced in the life of the believer through the rite of baptism. “Baptism is another bond that we Adventists commonly share, as it symbolizes our faith in Christ. We have a common Father; thus, we are all sons and daughters of God.
What do we do when conflict arises in the Adventist Church? Our lesson this week begins by drawing attention to three key elements: opinion, interpretation, and unity. By the end of the week we are told that the method of averting “schism” is to follow the Holy Spirit and submit to the word of God. How is that working out for us?
The Old Testament (OT) prophets repeatedly called upon literal Israel and the role it plays, as God’s chosen people to obey Him. Seventh-day Adventists believe that the OT prophecies and predictions given to literal Israel were based on the condition that they should obey God. However, the Bible gives numerous examples of how the Israelites disobeyed God and demonstrated disloyalty to Him instead. Disobedience is one of the causes that lead to disunity.
I was giving some Bible studies to a young man who wanted to know the reason for his faith. He had grown up in an Adventist home, had recently graduated from an Adventist school, but was still questioning why he believed what he believed. After our third meeting, he got up and said, “I don’t want any more studies. I don’t think this is for me.”
As he began walking away, I suddenly thought to ask, “During your life, have you ever encountered God’s love?” He looked at me quizzically for a moment, before answering, “no.” But his answer sounded more like a question.
“Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar” (Acts 27:24, ESV).
Paul’s nephew discovers the plot to kill Paul on his way to the Sanhedrin. He reports it to one of the centurions and then to the commander, who takes immediate action and transfers the apostle to Caesarea at night (Acts 23:12-23). Through his letter to the governor, we know the name of that commander; he is Claudius Lysias (Acts 23:24-30).