A knowledge of Jesus Christ and a growing relationship with Him are central to developing a strong spiritual life. This is highlighted throughout the Bible and is also included as one of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Part of this belief states:
. . . We are called to grow into the likeness of His character, communing with Him daily in prayer, feeding on His Word, meditating on it and on His providence, singing His praises, gathering together for worship, and participating in the mission of the Church.1
While it is clear that a strong commitment to Jesus, as well as continually working to grow more like Him, is central to one’s spiritual walk, researchers wanted to determine how members of the Adventist Church experience their commitment to Christ in reality.
In two Global Church Member Surveys (GCMS) conducted in 2013 and in 2017-18, Adventists were asked about their commitment to Christ and time spent thinking about Jesus’ life.
In 2013 GCMS, nearly two in five (38%) church members, in response to the question on their personal commitment to Christ, shared that they had been committed to Christ since they were young children. Another third (33%) reported that their commitment to Christ had developed over time, while 15% felt that their commitment had come suddenly, in a life-changing manner. However, 10% admitted that while they had once upon a time committed their lives to Christ, the commitment did not last. A small percentage of members shared that they were not sure if they were committed (3%) or were not committed at all (1%).
The 2017-18 GCMS asked members around the world the same question: “Which of the following best describes your commitment to Christ?” This survey showed that a smaller percentage (30%) of members reported that they had been committed to Christ since they were young children. However, a larger percentage (38%) of respondents felt that their relationship with Christ developed gradually over time. Less than two in five (16%) respondents shared that their commitment to Christ was sudden and life-changing, but 7% could identify a specific moment during which they had committed themselves to Christ. In addition, the 2017-18 GCMS showed that a greater number (7%) of respondents did not know whether they were committed to Christ. This is concerning, as the clear goal of the Adventist Church is to bring nonmembers and members alike into a closer relationship and close commitment with Jesus Christ.
One way that people can grow in their commitment to and relationship with Jesus is by spending time reflecting on His life. How frequently do church members report that they do so? The 2017-18 GCMS showed that just slightly over half (51%) of members reported that they spend time thinking about Jesus’s life daily or more than once a day. Another quarter (23%) reflect on Jesus’s life more than once a week, and another 12% do so about once a week. However, nearly one in ten (9%) of respondents shared that they thought about Jesus’ life less than once a month and 4% said they never did so.
With these numbers in mind, here are some practical, scripturally-based ideas church members can use to grow in their commitment and relationship with Jesus Christ:
- Give praise and adoration to God for His greatness (1 Chron. 29:11; Eph. 5:19-20; 1 Thess. 5:16-18)
- Meditate on the laws and works of the Lord (Ps. 1:2; Ps. 77:11, 12)
- Find comfort in Jesus, remembering that nothing can separate us from His love (Ps. 23:4; Rom. 8:38, 39)
- Serve and care for others, just as Jesus did (Matt. 20:25-28; Matt. 25:31-46; James 1:27)
- Become transformed to become more like Jesus every day (2 Cor. 3:17, 18)
- Demonstrate and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25)
- Count all “as rubbish”–except for Jesus! (Phil. 3:7-14)
- Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
- Gather together and build each other up with other believers (Heb. 10:25; 1 Thess. 5:11)
As we approach the end of another quite unusual year and look forward to celebrating the gift of Christ to humanity in Christmas, let us not forget that our commitment to a relationship with Jesus should not fall by the wayside or be considered unimportant. Instead, let us work to grow closer to Him each day, ultimately looking forward to being face-to-face with Him one day in Heaven!
“And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads… And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:4, 17 KJV).
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR
- 28 Fundamental Beliefs, 2015