Ever since I read about the personal love languages as described by Gary Chapman, I’ve been thinking about how those languages might apply to people and their relationship with the church. Words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, all could be applied appropriately. So, it was that while I sat listening to General Conference President Ted N.C. Wilson preach Sabbath, Oct. 12, on “Communicating God’s Truth in Love,” I fell to wondering just what his love language for the church might be.
Clearly he loves the church as his family. He began his sermon by saying so. He praised the young people. He affirmed the various departments in the General Conference for their work in communicating Christ’s love to the world. He talked of the significance of public evangelism, the importance of the publishing work. There were plenty of words of affirmation.
There were also the questions and warnings that seem to be a major part of his sermons. He is like the parent who wants to thoroughly prepare his child for any contingency she might face. “Are we spending time with Jesus every day,” he asked. “Are we praying for the Holy Spirit? .... Are we trusting in the sure word of prophecy? .... Are we shunning the higher critical approach to Bible study? …. Are we resisting the spirit of mysticism that is pervading Christianity? …. Are we more enamored by personal wealth than by personal devotion? …. Are we communicating an indifferent message by what we wear, what kind of music we listen to?”
He admonished the audience to be serious about their faith. “Let’s stand for the great biblical truths. Do not bend with any wind of doctrine that flows through the church. There are those in and outside the church that would change the beliefs and the church into denying Jesus himself. “
We must guard against the world entering the church. He said the homosexuality that is becoming prevalent in society is the same old immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah and completely in opposition to the Bible. “God’s warnings are for all of us,” he said. “We are all sinners in need of a savior. He will give us victory over sin through his power.”
Quoting from Jude 18, 19, he said, “In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts. These are they who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit.”
Perhaps these warnings are his act of service. “Let us not allow anyone to turn us from the rock-solid beliefs of Adventism,” he said. “Do not be tempted to make changes, unless you read a ‘thus saith the Lord.’ Don’t do it, South American Division,” he began, and then he named every division. “Don’t do it.”
Jude concludes by bringing glory to God. And Elder Wilson moved from his warnings to an illustration of love. He told of receiving a note in French from an 8-year-old boy when Elder Wilson visited his country. “I am very happy to see you and tell you I love you,” the little boy wrote. “Please pray for my family and for my brother who left the church and my father. I believe along with my mother.”
Quoting from Ellen G. White’s “Acts of the Apostles,” page 600, Wilson said every member should be a channel through which God can communicate his grace. “All heaven is waiting for men and women through whom God can reveal the power of Christianity,” he said. “Will you accept?”
Listening for the love in Elder Wilson’s words, was my response.
Photo credit: Adventist News Network
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5572