Five! Four! Three! Two! ONE! Wooooo!!”

In a room full of people, my two best friends and I were the only ones celebrating. Everyone else continued their conversations, while our 10-year-old selves were just relieved. What happened at the end of our countdown, you ask? Sundown on Saturday, better known to Adventists as the end of Sabbath.

We huddled up and planned our own evening of fun. The excitement for us was Backyard Football, a multiplayer computer game. However, our parents quickly turned us down due to the already planned “social” going on. Falling victim to the Seventh-day Adventist status quo, the three of us weren’t feeling social for the rest of the evening.

Over a decade later, I still resound with the sentiments of my youth, while knowing that a perspective shift would be ideal in order to find true satisfaction with my faith. In a society where tradition and radicalism struggle to mix like water and oil, individuals can find it difficult to wholeheartedly maintain Adventist standards. Thus, I believe a big difference is made in reimagining Adventism from a rigid religion to a friendship with Jesus.

At some point, we may find ourselves giving or receiving the following evasions:

“Hey, I would love to hang out with you, but it’s Sabbath, and I have to . . . ”

“Uhhh, we can’t do that, because it’s Sabbath, and the Bible says . . . ”

“Ahem. Are you guys talking about appropriate things? It’s Sabbath . . . ”

Because of this, we make the concept of Sabbath our trump card or scapegoat. By making the seventh day of the week seem like a burden, we completely miss out on its blessing. Yes, the Sabbath is to be respected, but it is to be as relieving as it is revered.

I cannot begin to tell you how many Sabbaths I spent in my youth constantly avoiding anything in which I found leisure, for fear that my parents were spying on me and ready to scold my actions. To this day, I still second-guess my Sabbath plans, and I find myself distressing about my salvation. I call this the “Double Take Syndrome,” as it calls to such moments of constantly looking over our shoulders in fear instead of faith.

However, it wasn’t until my adolescence that I fully understood what Jesus told the disciples in Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (NIV). Instead of looking at how Sabbath could convenience my earthly needs, God intended His holy day for my spiritual needs, which transcend and eventually fulfill all other needs.

Sabbath rest goes above and beyond sleeping in until second service or taking a nap after potluck. This rest and relaxation occurs when we invest in our friendship with Jesus, even more than during the six days we labor. Once we are blessed in our quality time with our Savior, the urge to bless others is real, whether you are 10 or 100 years old. From interpersonal ministries to nursing home visits, the entire spectrum of service provides blessings to both the giver and receiver. Because it’s Sabbath.

Personally Embracing the Sabbath

The seventh-day Sabbath is the core of Adventism. By limiting this belief to a 24-hour period, we perform a disservice to the Father who wisely gave us this gift. Though it is a day of rest that calls for the best from us, we should breathe its specifics into our daily existence, so that others around us can see how attainable, simple, and enjoyable it is.

Our sinfully-inclined human nature creates stigmas of religions such as Adventism, as we focus on what we cannot do as opposed to how we can feel and experience. Life’s journey can be seen as many obstacles, or, we can reimagine these obstacles as opportunities to grow within. Once we experience these changes inside ourselves, why wouldn’t we want to live it out all seven days of the week? During the simple times, Jesus is openly looking to converse with us. Through life’s hardships, our Savior carries us as an opportunity to constantly commune with Him. Jesus isn’t on-call, but always calling.

Christ Befriends, not Berates

As a child, my two best friends and I would always seek out the sunset times in the church bulletin. Every Sabbath, we looked for it to end, as it seemed to be a non-school day robbed of fun. Even when our birthdays fell on Sabbath, we found no joy in them. However, once I came to realize that my belief was more than just guidelines which the world seemed to oppose, I embraced the Sabbath as a Seven-day Adventist. Being in the world and not of the world, every day of the week, is the best way for others to see Christ’s image reflected in me. This same Christ is the one who doesn’t berate me, but befriends me.

Do we look for the sunset times in our church bulletins? Do we use the Sabbath as a trump card or scapegoat to believers and non-believers? There is no time like the present to see these “obstacles” as daily opportunities to develop and grow spiritually. After which, the things of this earth will grow strangely dim . . . such as computer games.

Five Ways to Make a Difference as a Seven-day Adventist

  • Impact others daily. Strive to perform an anonymous act of kindness, every day,
    no matter how big or small.
  • Accept others unconditionally. Implement an “open-arms policy.” For in order to win souls,
    one must unreservedly accept.
  • Listen to others delicately. Understand that one’s friendship with Jesus is personal. You can advise (non-)believers how to approach their spiritual lives; you cannot dictate to them.
  • Serve others selflessly. Participate in some type of community outreach on a regular basis. By serving others, we become served and satisfied ourselves.
  • Love others, in everything you do. Know that Jesus isn’t chasing after you with the finger of condemnation; rather, He is walking right beside you in open conversation.

This article was also published in the February 2015 print edition of OUTLOOK, our annual special issue written and designed by Union College students. It was written by AJ Valcin, a senior communication major from New Rochelle, New York. The print version was designed by Ben Holms, a senior communication major from La Salle, Colorado.