Proselytizing is the act of attempting to convert people to another opinion and, particularly, another religion. For most of my Christian journey I have shied away from trying to convert folk to “Adventism” that were already Christians of other denominations. In fact when I accepted Jesus there are a couple things I said I would “NEVER” do, “I will never try to convince anyone to become an Adventist.” Well I became a Seventh-day Adventist Minister so that went out the window, but I did stick to it, in that I didn’t spend much time worrying about or even caring if other Christians became Adventist. I figured, “they are already Christian, so that is good enough.” I believe I had this view because I didn’t want our church to come across as arrogant or elitist. Over the last couple of years my journey has been away from this position, ’till now, I believe I have the exact opposite frame of mind and position than I started with. I will say it: I BELIEVE PEOPLE SHOULD BE ADVENTIST! Before you leave this blog or send off a scathing remark let me clarify a couple things. First of all this position does not mean that I believe only Adventists will be saved. This position does not mean that I believe everyone should be an Adventist RIGHT NOW. I believe there are folk that if they were currently in our churches their Christian experience would be hurt because many of our churches are not ready to receive them and love them the way Christ loves them. This position does not mean that I believe we should raid non-Adventist churches or speak ill against non-Adventist churches.
Here is what this position does mean. That when I speak of 125,000 persons in the city of Visalia and there are only 2,000 Adventists as I mentioned in a previous post, I am concerned about reaching all 123,000 non-Adventists with the parts of scripture Adventists teach that I believe are neglected in the rest of Christendom. I believe if I did not care about this, and if I am not willing to do this, then I am not fulfilling the Great Commission which tells us, “
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19, 20).
We love the disciple making part that is following Jesus. We love the baptizing part that is publicly declaring allegiance to Jesus. But the Commission also tells us to “teach people to obey everything I have commanded.” When I read that I believe Jesus is telling us to teach people to obey the totality of scripture! Part of obedience in learning the right things, learning truth.
What if Jesus had said “I don’t want to offend the Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection so when they want to talk to me about this subject I’m going to tell them not to worry about it. We’re all Jews. And that is really what matters!” No Jesus talked about the resurrection (Luke 20:27-39).
Or what about Paul when he visited the folk at Ephesus. Here he met fellow Christians, followers of Christ, but they had never heard about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What if Paul had said, “well don’t worry about it. You believe in Jesus and that is all that matters.” No Paul talked about the Holy Spirit Baptism (Acts 19:1-7).
I believe the Bible teaches the 7th day Sabbath. I believe the Bible teaches a visible single second coming of Christ, no rapture. I believe the Bible teaches soul sleep. I believe the Bible teaches a pre-Advent judgment. If I believe the Bible teaches these things I would be going against my convictions and against the Great Commission if I didn’t feel it important to share every single one of these truths with others, even other followers of Jesus.
I am thankful that Martin Luther proselytized, and John Wesley, William Miller, and Rachel Oakes Preston all proselytized, because out of these different faith traditions and understandings of scripture my belief system and even my denomination has been developed and grown. I believe they in doing so were fulfilling the Great Commission and I shall do likewise!