My people are like lost sheep forsaken by their shepherd. They have wandered from one
mountain to another and have forgotten where their home is.” Jeremiah 50:6 (The Clear
Word)  I praise God for my return to His open arms. It will be 10 years this December 2007. I
left at age 18 and returned at age 36. My reason for backsliding was not for the reason of
many today I am learning. The only similarity we all hold is we all left due to spiritual
trouble a.k.a lack of fully allowing Jesus in our lives.

 But since I have been back, as I visit church to church, and also dialog with co-workers within my “faith-based” place of employment, I have heard over and over again that "my children" and loved ones have left the church due to extreme legalism. I have to admit that in most churches today we do not see much legalism nor face the constant “don’ts” and “can'ts anymore.  More of the opposite instead. And I am beginning to see why. Preachers today have realized that the “don’ts” with zero love has run our people off, out and even to atheism. I’ve heard the woes of many a parent say, “My son went to all of our schools from K-12 and on to our colleges.” Now he won’t step foot in the church.” Some are partying, drinking and
working on the Sabbath. Others are devout and loyal “first day” church goers now.
Back to my reason for leaving.

 I simply felt like I was big enough and old enough to go and live it up as I pleased while I held on to the knowledge, acceptance and tolerance of my faith as I knew it. My conscience often bothered me during the Sabbath hours and I did everything on the Sabbath accept listen to secular music. I just couldn’t go there. Go figure. So I came back because I still knew and believed in the remnant church and the teachings of the church which I knew are all Bible-based. I guess I didn’t get that “Adventist don’t do” pounding as others did or I may not be around today growing in Christ day by day.  

Anyway, it finally hit me, though, what has happened to many former, missing and backslidden Seventh-day Adventist members. I was talking by phone to my 20 year old son who recently moved out and down to Atlanta. I was sharing with him, that for his
sister, my remaining child in the home, my 18 year old daughter, I plan to put down some
rules for her to live by while she lives under my roof. And one of them was to attend
church each and every Sabbath. To my surprise my son said, “Mom, we ‘Adventists’
know to go to church on Saturday. You don’t have to force us. You’ll just push us away."

Within this statement, something hit me hard. The part about being a Seventh-day
Adventist. No wonder people run from the faith. They are almost made to feel that they
are a part of a cult. Why do I say this? It’s as if “Adventism” and "its rules" are outside of
God’s holy word. It appears that the Sabbath, Law, State of the Dead and others are made
up by some Seventh-day Adventist ruler somewhere. These truths and others come from
the Bible. Working on the Sabbath is not “against my religion”. It is against God’s word.
Growing up I would tell my friends that eating pork and wearing jewelry were against my
religion. Wrong! Instead I should have taken out my Bible and pointed to the passages on
these topics that I had been previously taught.

So for those who are no longer around and have run off to a far away land, as far as they
can possibly go, have done so to get away from life long; even from birth, “Adventist
don’ts!” “Adventist can’t’s!” “It’s against our religions!” and “We don’ts!” Rarely
backing anything up with ‘thus saith the Lord’. But instead ‘thus saith the Adventists’
I must share that I quickly corrected my son. I told him, “No son, we go to church on the
seventh-day Sabbath because Jesus in His word asks us to.” Adventist or not.

My prayer is that we Seventh-day Adventist Christians who hold to the Bible, the Word
of God, and Jesus’ saving grace will get the opportunity to share Him lovingly along with
His Bible doctrines. And that we can remove the old heavy burdens that had been placed
before God’s people for so many years. If we do this we can begin to reclaim the lost
sheep by mending and repairing pass abuse, if you will.  We must love people as Christ loved and help them to see Him and His character by His Biblical doctrines and truths making our faith based upon Christ and not do’s and don’ts.  Placing doctrines inside a box labeled Adventism sets our faith apart from Christ.  If we can point to scripture on each and every doctrine, then our Seventh-day Adventist faith is Christ.
R. Denise Johnson