Follow the Lamb

Ricardo Graham

Recently, while driving down a rural road, I saw a herd of sheep. One of them, apparently a mother, was grazing near the fence adjacent to the road. A little lamb followed closely behind her, nibbling the vegetation near its feet. It struck me as a serendipitous illustration of what I am supposed to be doing—following the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

As I continued my drive, my mind began an impromptu self-evaluation of my spiritual walk, with several questions. How closely am I walking in the footsteps of Jesus? Am I walking close behind Him, following His example, or am I a straying lamb, not living by His principles of obedience, love, mercy, justice, and humility? Am I a reluctant follower or am I eager to seek His presence and emulate His lifestyle? Many other questions flooded my mind as I followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

Truly, Jesus is worthy of our worship, praise, and adulation. After all, John the Baptist declared Him to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, KJV). The disciple and Gospel writer Matthew recorded that He would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). But Jesus is much more than a Savior from sin. He claims rulership over all, because He is Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer—and much more.

He is the only example among men whose life we can safely copy in all respects. John the Revelator states that one quality of the 144,000—that special group presented to the Father as the first fruit of the redeemed—is that “they follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Revelation 14:4. NIV). That may be the most notable fact—whether literal or symbolic—we have about this group. They follow the Lamb, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

What does it take to follow the Lamb? Choosing daily to submit to His authority and to practice self-denial is essential, of course. Surrendering the will and faithfully obeying His directives are non-negotiable with Jesus.

The character transformation so needed among us is not dependent on a slavish obedience to Christ’s will but to the deep desire to please the One who died to redeem us from the power, penalty, and presence of sin. In this process, we accept the recommendation of Paul: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5, KJV).

The challenge is to examine ourselves under the microscope of God’s Word—are we really living out the faith of which Jesus is the “author and finisher”? (See Hebrews 12:2.) Doing so often results in accepting His Lordship over our lives willingly, lovingly, and completely. And, measuring ourselves by Jesus’ life, we can determine how well we are doing.
When we examine our lives, we may realize that we’ve a long way to go to arrive at where the Lord wants us to be, in Him. Yet we can be confident that as we continue to follow the Lamb, surrendering daily, He will make us what He wants us to be. The work of our salvation is fully in His hands, the hands that were willingly outstretched for us and nailed to the cross for our sins, transgressions, and iniquities. We receive the merits of His holiness by faith, and that faith results in practical righteousness that glorifies and pleases God.

And one day, because we have followed the Lamb spiritually, we will live with Him physically. This is our hope and desire, to be with the Lamb. The best part of eternity may be the wonderful opportunity to stand, sit, or kneel in the presence of the Lamb of God, the Conquering King of Kings, and Lord of Lords—and praise Him for His sacrificial service to sinners like us, making us fit to live with Him throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

Ricardo Graham is president of the Pacific Union Conference. This piece was originally published in slightly different form in the Recorder.



2018-08-30T16:26:38-07:00August 31st, 2018|Blog|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” August 31, 2018 Episode 214

All God’s People and it’s accompanying program bulletin are formally released at 5 p.m. on Fridays to Facebook, YouTube, and here on Vimeo.


Do you have room in your prayers for 22 more special people? We’re referring to the student missionaries from La Sierra University and Pacific Union College who just a few days ago began their terms of service for this school year.

From South Korea to Peru, to the Philippines, to Spain, to Micronesia, to Ethiopia—we are so proud of how our young people have responded to the call to give a year of their lives in service.

Pacific Union Student Missionaries

Samuel Abawag
Serving in Majuro as a teacher

Madeline Anderson, Eureka, CA
Serving Gimbe Adventist Hospital in Ethiopia

David Arriaza, Chico, CA
Serving in Pohnpei

Jadelyn Bautista, Hinsdale, IL
Serving Pagudpud Adventist Wellness Center, Philippines

Taylor Bothwell, Angwin, CA
Serving in Pohnpei

Micah Buller, Santa Cruz, CA
Serving Kosrae SDA School, Micronesia

Ariana Calderon
Serving in Majuro as a teacher

Diego Calderon
Serving in Majuro as a teacher/chaplain

Mark Andre Camarena, Escondido, CA
Serving in Puyo, Ecuador, assisting in the opening of the first Adventist Bilingual Center

Alex Chang, Grass Valley, CA
Serving in Pohnpei

Alexis Cuevas (La Sierra New Alum), Brea, CA
Serving Puyo, Ecuador, assisting in the opening of the first Adventist Bilingual Center

Matthew Frias, San Bernardino, CA
Serving long term at SDA Sahmyook Language Institute in Seoul, South Korea

Jordan Harris
Serving in Ecuador as a teacher

Lysa Hinojosa, Highland, CA
Serving Puyo, Ecuador, assisting in the opening of the first Adventist Bilingual Center as director

Brandon Korompis, Redlands, CA
Serving the Pagudpud Adventist Wellness Center, Philippines

Madeline Miller, Covina, CA
Serving long term in South Korea

Glaucia Monteiro
Serving in Majuro as a teacher

Madison Oliver, Angelus Oaks, CA
Serving the Pagudpud Adventist Wellness Center, Philippines

Emmanuel Omosor, Loma Linda, CA
Serving in Spain

Taliah Perez, Roseburg, OR
Serving in Fiji

Lindsay Vandenburgh, Napa, CA
Serving in Fiji

Isabella Walder
Serving in Majuro as a teacher

Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27)

Interested in dedicating a year to service?

Learn more about short and long-term mission trips from the Office of Volunteer Ministries at:

Follow Pacific Union College World Missions:

Follow La Sierra’s Center for Outreach and Mission Service:

2019-04-30T20:26:46-07:00August 29th, 2018|All Gods People|

The Knowledge We Were Not Built to Bear

Ginger Ketting-Weller 

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,for in the day that you eat of it youshall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJV; emphasis supplied).

“’But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase’”  (Daniel 12:4, NKJV; emphasis supplied).

These days we are seeing ever more anxious children. Watch the tears of the elementary kids, even as they get older. See how the junior high kids worry. Watch the cares and concerns of the teenagers, the fears of the college students. Anxiety fills our air. Researchers are noticing the signs and effects of it on our young ones.

Why is this?

Here’s what I think: we were not built to bear the increase of knowledge.

I’m not just talking about the increase in the levels of knowledge that we must attain in school, although that is part of it. According to Amy Ellis Nutt, in an articlein the Washington Post, because of electronic media we know far too much. We know what our friends are thinking and doing. We know about crimes in our neighborhoods of which we would otherwise be unaware. We know about the distresses and grudges carried by people we know personally, as well as those reported in the news and social media. In an age of heightened openness, we know who offends our family members and where their frustrations, disagreements, and estrangements lie.            

Additionally, our world has expanded. We know about disasters all around the globe, and we see them in living, moving color. We know of horrific acts perpetrated here and afar. Exponentially more we hear the criticisms of leaders in our communities, our churches, and our country. Not only that. Others have the tools to criticize us—even when we are yet children—to large audiences … and we can see what they are saying about us.

No wonder both we and our children are steeped in anxietythese days! No wonder.

Has it ever occurred to us that perhaps we don’t need toknowall of these things? That this new level of stress in our society in the past 50-100 years is too much for us? That we were not designed to bear all this horror, sadness, and discord?

I have often thought in recent years that as knowledge has increased, we are forced to bear more of the knowledge that that God’s heart must bear. That heavy sadness, that great anxiety, is not something that I can survive. I don’t know how God can be anything other than deeply sad all the time. But then I am not God, and I know there must be little joys in the midst of it all. (I would love to be one of them. I am certain that the children in my family are some of God’s little joys.)

I don’t have a good answer to the problem of too much knowledge, although I did write an article on how young adults manage their fears and have developed a few guidelines as a result. Without ever having made a deliberate choice about it, I nowadays rarely watch the news. I glance over the headlines and then keep moving to focus only on those things that I can see and hear immediately around me. In my online reading I try to skip most of the squabbles and much of the finger pointing, and instead I enjoy the affirmations and humor. When someone engages me in doing some hard thinking about our world, I do join them. But at some point I turn away from the discussion for a while. That is enough for now.

So, what of our children? If too much knowledge is so hard for us with adult discernment, what is it for them? We adults need to give serious thought as to how their little hearts process all of the knowledge surrounding them. This is a time of higher plasticity in their brains, a time when they are being formed for life. These are the years in which their hearts, characters, and emotional tools are developed. How we can help them to set boundaries on what they must bear? How can we help them recognize and reduce the exposures that draw them into anxiety? How can we right-size their world so that they don’t build anxious habits of thought?

Parents and teachers, you are shaping the future. May you do everything in your power to make it a less anxious one. I don’t think we were made to bear this knowledge of good and evil.

Ginger Ketting-Weller is an alumnus of Walla Walla University who now serves as dean of the School of Education at La Sierra University in Riverside, California. Her Ph.D. in education was focused on human development.




2018-08-22T15:53:57-07:00August 24th, 2018|Blog|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” August 24, 2018 Episode 213

The Bulletin for All God’s People #213


On August 20, Redwood Adventist Academy students returned to the campus destroyed by fire October 2017. As students returned for a new school year, they were welcomed by both firefighters and local law enforcement who came to show the school the community’s support.

Marc Woodson, Acting President of the Northern California Conference, along with Stephanie Leal and Julie Lorenz from the Communication team, were on campus on Monday as part of the welcome to new and returning students. They asked some of the students and parents how it felt to be back.

Jorge Sibrian, a third grader told them, “I’m feeling happy. Not everything burned down. I hope just to have fun here and to remember memories of my school.”

Students noted the changes the fire made to their campus and shared what they look forward to for this school year. Liberty Bertuccelli, a seventh grader, said, “It definitely feels a bit different, kind of surreal. It’s nice to be here, and I like being with friends. I hope that Mrs. Weems will start sports, so I can play flag football.”

Parents also shared what it felt like to be back at RAA’s campus. Yolanda Merklin, parent of an eighth-grader, summed up the emotions when she said, “It’s nostalgic to be back—really good. I feel like we’ve come home. It’s like a family reunion.”

While the enrollment at Redwood has dropped because of the fire, there is a strong commitment in this community to keep the school open while plans to rebuild are finalized.

In preparation for the school year, RAA set up temporary modular classrooms for their students. They also set up a large tent on the grass for assemblies and for a place students can play in bad weather.

The dream of being back in school on campus is starting to come true! See more photos of RAA’s first day of school via the link below.

RAA’s First Day of School:

Our prayers are with the nearly 1,000 teachers who are standing before some 12,000 students in 150 schools across 5 states—as they begin this year.

We invite you to join us in holding up our Educational System—asking for God to bless the students and teachers, to enliven their classrooms with the Spirit of Christ, so that the joy of learning and of God’s grace might be experienced on their campuses and in each of their lives.

We’re looking forward to sharing updates on our schools throughout the year. Follow the Pacific Union on Facebook for photos and videos from our preschools, elementary schools, and academies.

Follow the Pacific Union:

At the time of this publication, the effects of Hurricane Lane on Hawaii are unknown. An updated bulletin will be sent if and when updates become available.

Cease to dwell on days gone by
and to brood over past history.
Here and now I will do a new thing;
this moment it will break from the bud.
Can you not perceive it?
I will make a way even through the wilderness
and paths in the barren desert.
—Isaiah 43:18-19, NEB

2019-04-30T20:26:46-07:00August 24th, 2018|All Gods People|

My Brother’s Keeper

Becky De Oliveira

As I descended from the summit of Longs Peak—one of Colorado’s famed mountains higher than14,000 feet—in the fall of 2015, I passed a young woman and an older man at the start of a steep section of the climb known as The Trough, a corridor filled with large rocks, granite slabs, and loose scree.

The pair caught my attention because the young woman was crawling on her hands and knees, sobbing uncontrollably. She occasionally summoned up what little energy she appeared to have in order to scream short things like, “I can’t!” When her companion suggested she sit and rest, she screamed that it was too scary and she was going to fall. The longer I watched, waiting for my climbing partner to catch up, the more uncomfortable I became. That girl had no business on the mountain. I made this judgment based on the behavior I observed and my own experience, having twice stood on the summit of Longs Peak.

I debated whether to gently confront the pair, suggesting that the girl head down for her own safety. But something stopped me from opening my mouth. Who am I to tell anyone whether they can climb Longs Peak? It’s not like I’m world-class climber Ed Viesturs or anything. When my partner caught up, we continued our descent; I have no idea what happened to the girl. Not my problem. I’m not Ed Viesturs. Not a park ranger or a member of any sort of patrol. Not her keeper. People have the right to make their own choices. Even bad ones. Right?

Just a few hours later, my hiking partner became ill. She was vomiting and dizzy, and couldn’t hold down as much as a mouthful of Gatorade. She continued to slowly make her way, pausing every so often to retch. Strangers we met often paused to ask if we were OK and to offer encouragement. Their interference, well-intentioned as it was, inexplicably rankled, and I found myself bristling with self-righteous irritation. “Do you have enough water?” they’d ask, and I felt patronized. What kind of idiot do you take me for? These people, unlike me, felt that they most certainly did have a right—and even an obligation—to check on the well-being of other hikers. Even if none of them were, so far as I could tell, Ed Viesturs.

I kept reminding myself that they were doing us a favor, that they were demonstrating compassion rather than judgment. They were only acknowledging an obvious problem and trying to ensure that it didn’t get worse. And their willingness to speak further complicated my own earlier decision to stay silent when confronted with the crying, crawling girl at the base of The Trough. Perhaps I should have said something after all.

What if I were to become a keeper? What kind of keeper would I be? Would becoming a keeper—even in a limited, part-time sense—be a slippery slope that would make me an annoying busybody? If so, I definitely don’t want to be a keeper.

The term, of course, originates in the book of Genesis. God asks Cain where his brother Abel is. His response—“Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)—has become a common way to express a central tension in our community lives. To what extent are we our brothers’ keepers? Various cultures have different attitudes toward autonomy and interconnectedness, but probably few are as conflicted about the exact definition of community, its boundaries, and its responsibilities as Western culture is. We want help but hate advice. We value friends but resent obligations. We enjoy affirmation and seethe at rebuke. We want community but only when it meets our intensely parsed criteria for what we deem helpful. People who interfere in our lives by assessing what they see and drawing our attention to it are often labeled as judgmental. Nobody likes a judger—not even, and maybe especially, one who happens to be right.

Nadia Bolz-Weber writes that the point of worshipping in community is to experience grace in a way that we simply never could in isolation. We are unable to see grace except through the expression of other humans. This implies that we are meant to talk to each other honestly, sometimes even sharing things that run the risk of causing offense. And there is the ever-present danger that some of us, if given a free pass to indulge in “accountability,” will use this as an excuse to sadistically torment others by nitpicking about all their supposed flaws and failings. Sigh. There has been so much written and said about judgmental people. What could I possibly add? Everyone dislikes them. Yet they seem to motor on, oblivious to the destruction they leave in their wake. And some of us have become increasingly all too ready to label certain statements or actions as “judgmental” as a way of discounting and discrediting them without having to consider whether judgment is itself a necessarily negative concept or if it might actually serve a helpful purpose.

Even if the person resting at the base of The Trough and advising you to save the summit for another day is wearing flip-flops and sipping from a can of Mr. Pibb, well, that doesn’t make her wrong about you. Take correction with grace. Give it with compassion.


Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, and graphic designer working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado.




2018-08-16T11:23:34-07:00August 17th, 2018|Blog|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” August 17, 2018 Episode 212


For one special evening every August, Eagle Rock Church becomes a magnet that draws community members together with the National Night Out Block Party. It’s a time for the church and its neighbors to get to know each other, share food, games, prizes, and fellowship as, together, they seek for a better and safer community. Congratulations, Eagle Rock! What a great way to show a community you care.

Follow Eagle Rock on Facebook:


We’ve all been concerned and praying about the wildfires in California. The Adventist members in Redding, California, have responded to those fires in a powerful and much-appreciated way.

During the first weekend of August, churches in the Northern California Conference rallied to support those affected by the Carr fires. At Redding Adventist Academy, over 60 community and Adventist church members from around the area gathered to set up an expanded God’s Closet clothing giveaway in the school gym. On Sunday, August 5, 420 people, including victims of the Carr fire, walked through the gym doors to receive clothing for their families.

There are so many ways in which can make the love of God more tangible to our neighbors and communities.

Watch a short and inspiring film about God’s Closet:


The beginning of the new school year is just around the corner—and soon our schools across the Pacific Union will be welcoming their students back for another great year. We are very proud of what is being achieved in our schools—and are particularly grateful for the innovative and groundbreaking programs found in our academies.

Students at Sacramento Adventist Academy and a handful of other Adventist schools around the country have partnered with an initiative called FIRST that teaches leadership skills through hands-on activities involving science, math, and technology. A new video from Church Support Services explores why students and teachers alike are captivated by this program.

Watch the video:

The stories this week on All God’s People are reminders of how very grateful we should be for God’s love and care, for the ministry of our churches and schools, and for how the love of Jesus brings us together. Even though we are spread out across a very large Union, we are still one big family of God!

#AllGodsPeople #LivingGodsLove

2019-04-30T20:26:47-07:00August 17th, 2018|All Gods People|

Relief for Sabbath Observers Seeking Jobs?

The number one problem faced by those who observe Sabbath when seeking jobs is having to disclose their schedule limitations on the job application and in the hiring process. Routinely, Sabbath observers are screened out. Help is on the way! At least in California.

The Fair Employment and Housing Commission unveiled its proposed new regulations this week, addressing what are known as “pre employment inquiries” and making it clear that companies must inform applicants they don’t need to disclose their schedule unavailability if it is due to the need for accommodation on account of religion, disability, or medical condition.  These regulations were revised at the urging of Church State Council Executive Director Alan J. Reinach over a multi-year period, and supported by the California Employment Lawyers Association.  When implemented, the new regulations are expected to greatly reduce the problem of Sabbath observers being rejected out of hand.  This is good news for employers as well as workers, since the job market is tight in this robust economy, and companies can ill afford to reject otherwise qualified applicants.  Companies will still be permitted to inquire about specific scheduling needs, if the job requires it.  But generic requests for open availability as is commonly practiced today should become a relic of the past.  More than 50 years after passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Sabbath observing workers may finally obtain something approaching equal employment opportunity.

The Commission will be receiving public comment on Friday, August 17th, and will eventually either revise or finalize these proposed regulations. We certainly hope and pray for a steady course.

2018-08-13T16:00:24-07:00August 13th, 2018|News|

2018 NAD Teachers Convention in Chicago Includes 950 Teachers from the Pacific Union

The 2018 NAD Teachers Convention took place August 5-9 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, offering Adventist teachers and educators from across the North American Division the opportunity to come together for inspiration, instruction, networking, and professional development. The expected attendance of nearly 6,000 included more than 950 teachers and administrators from the Pacific Union.

The theme for the 2018 event was “Encounter Jesus, Experience Excellence” and featured a rich and diverse mix of general sessions, worship experiences, concerts, workshops, networking opportunities, and exhibits.

Dr. Berit von Pohle, Pacific Union Conference Director of Education, spoke about the importance of the convention and why it is valuable to teachers and educators: “It’s an amazing experience to see 6,000 Adventist teachers together in one place and focused on learning, spirituality, curriculum—all of the things that go with school, but in an Adventist context.”

Dr. von Pohle values the professional support the convention provides for teachers. “Too often as teachers, we feel very isolated,” she says. “We walk into a classroom in the morning, we shut the door, and we’re in that classroom for the total of the day. It’s great to get together with teachers from other classrooms at our school or from other schools, and maybe even at the conference level, but to see that we are a system this large is really affirming to every teacher. It helps them know that they are not alone. There are other people who do exactly what they do every day to help students. And it helps remind us that we are part of an important ministry that is very valuable to the future of our church.”

Elder Ricardo Graham, President of the Pacific Union Conference, attended the event and expressed his personal support for it. “My story is that I came into the Adventist Church through education, and so education will always have value for me,” he says. “My kids, from K through college, were educated in Adventist schools because my wife and I knew that this is the way the values of Adventism are not only repeatedly transmitted but underscored and re-anchored. You need to give the message over and over again, in varied methods and varied ways, through various teachers and approaches.”

Dr. Von Pohle—whose father was a teacher and whose daughter, Brooke Lemmon, is a classroom teacher in Southeastern California—affirmed the professional development the convention offers teachers, “Educators are professionals. And as professionals, they continue to grow and develop,” she says. “They’re not stagnant. They continue to learn. They continue to grow. Coming to a convention, taking a summer school class, reading a professional journal or a book: those are all ways that they continue to sharpen their edges, making sure that they’re as prepared as they can be so every student has the opportunity to learn.”


2018-08-13T15:59:59-07:00August 13th, 2018|News|

Thoughts on the One-year Anniversary of Charlottesville

Alan Reinach

There were three things Thomas Jefferson wanted to be remembered for, three things he wanted on his tombstone: being President of the United States was not one of them. Drafting the Declaration of Independence was one, so was authoring the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. But the third proudest achievement of his life was not his library or his beloved Monticello—it was founding the University of Virginia, an academic institution that has become one of the very finest in the world.

According to the historians at Monticello, despite his economic dependence on slaveholding, Jefferson was a public opponent of slavery throughout his life. He called it a “moral depravity” and “a hideous blot.”

One can readily imagine that, were Jefferson alive last year, he would have been horrified at the goings on when a protester was killed for daring to stand up and object to white supremacists marching through the streets of his college town, carrying guns and chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

When he penned the words “all men are created equal,” Jefferson understood just how revolutionary an act this was. He also understood that it would take future generations to flesh out the meaning of this principle and to fully realize the promise of equality. Clearly, the promise remains elusive.

Today it is well for us to look back, not just a year ago to Charlottesville but two centuries or more, to what Jefferson declared to be the principle our nation was founded on, and, dare I suggest, the principle that would make America truly great.

Jefferson did not have much room in his life for a transcendent God. But he was quick to invoke the deity in support of his beloved concept of human rights, inalienable God-given rights. And if God gave rights to you and me, He also gave them to the other person. Whatever our political or religious differences, if we want to restore our national greatness, we must begin by relearning the lesson of a simple song we teach our toddlers in church: “Red and yellow black and white, all are precious in His sight.” And if they are all precious in God’s sight, they must be precious in our sight, as well. I know it is politically incorrect to refer to people in such terms. But the point is well taken: it is time to stop being afraid of one another, stop being afraid of people who are different, stop being afraid of the other. Fear is the fuel of fascism, the fuel of oppression, the fuel of war and violence and persecution. Let’s choke off the oxygen of intolerance by learning to reject fear.

Alan Reinach is executive director of the Church State Council, the religious liberty educational and advocacy arm of the Pacific Union Conference. He is a member of both the New York and California state bar associations.


2018-08-12T15:30:37-07:00August 12th, 2018|Blog|

Serving is Better than Superlatives

Stephen Chavez

If the Twitterverse is any indication, we live in an age in which everything—everything—is the best, the greatest, the largest, the longest, the hugest (or very huge).

Politicians and other public officials seem obliged to announce that not only are they doing their jobs, they’re doing their jobs better and more efficiently than they’ve been done in 20, 30, or 50 years.

When televangelists and megachurches number their followers in the thousands, their viewers in the millions, and their income in billions of dollars, you have to wonder if anything resembling Christian humility is still part of their ethos.

What is humility? Perhaps that is the question we should ask.

It’s more than a little ironic that the Creator, from whose hand came the marvelous power, beauty, and complexity of the cosmos that surrounds us, came as a baby born of humble parents in a remarkably humble setting.

Nothing in Jesus’ life and ministry suggests that He wanted anything more than to serve ordinary people. The clothes He wore, the food He ate, couldn’t be categorized as “the best.” The people with whom He associated were generally those who didn’t have fancy titles or pedigrees. Most of us would’ve felt quite comfortable in His presence. That’s because most of us have to admit that we’re not the smartest, the prettiest, the richest; we’re just . . . us.

Because of being so normal, most of us on some level carry around feelings of inadequacy, humility’s wicked stepsister. Feelings of humility and feelings of inadequacy are not the same, not even close. We feel inadequate when we compare ourselves with others: with their education, their financial portfolio, their physical appearance. Unmanaged, our inadequacies make it impossible for us to truly reflect Christ’s character to the people around us. Why would anyone listen to us? We’re so . . . average.

But that’s precisely the point. We can afford to be humble because at its most basic level the kingdom of heaven is populated with average people, described by Peter Marshall as “disciples of the rank and file.” For every brash, outspoken Peter, you have an Andrew, working behind the scenes to rustle up some food to feed a crowd of thousands (John 6:7-9). For every duo nicknamed “sons of thunder” (James and John [Mark 3:17]), you have two sisters, Martha and Mary, working humbly to provide a place where Jesus and His disciples were welcome to rest and relax (Luke 10:38).

Humility enables us to serve without a spotlight, to be a supporting player, a member of the cast, knowing that our contribution is just as important as is the person’s who stands at the podium—and that even if our role gathers no attention now, it is part of God’s overall plan for the salvation of humankind.

The Bible tells dozens of stories about individuals who served humbly and without fanfare before they entered center stage. Joseph was a servant and prisoner before he became a counselor to Pharaoh. Ruth was a daughter-in-law before she became one of Jesus’ ancestors. David was a shepherd before he became king. Amos was a farmer before he was a prophet. Peter, Andrew, John, and James were fishermen before they turned the world upside down through the power of the Holy Spirit. Before they stepped into the spotlight, all these people made their livings in noble, albeit ordinary, professions.

What set them apart was that while they waited offstage, God was developing in them the character traits that would eventually advance His plan of redemption.

The question the prophet asks is a serious one: “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?” (Micah 6:6, NIV). He asks further if God can be satisfied with burnt offerings, whether animal, vegetable, or human.

Then this conclusion: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NIV).

Interesting. In this context, humility is as important as justice and mercy. Without humility we come off as arrogant, proud, self-righteous. The world is already populated with enough people who believe that the sun rises and sets on them. Christians, on the other hand, model their lives after the One who said, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27, NIV). It takes more than a little humility to say that.

Stephen Chavez was a pastor in the Pacific Union Conference for almost 20 years. He is now an assistant editor of Adventist Review.




2018-08-07T16:58:52-07:00August 10th, 2018|Blog|
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