Portions of the following excerpts from The Desire of Ages are already posted here. Regardless, these thoughts (and the entire chapter, “The First Evangelists“) deserve special attention by Adventist Activists (underline added).
The disciples’ message was the same as that of John the Baptist and of Christ Himself: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They were to enter into no controversy with the people as to whether Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah; but in His name they were to do the same works of mercy as He had done. He bade them, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
During His ministry Jesus devoted more time to healing the sick than to preaching. His miracles testified to the truth of His words, that He came not to destroy but to save. His righteousness went before Him, and the glory of the Lord was His rearward. Wherever He went, the tidings of His mercy preceded Him. Where He had passed, the objects of His compassion were rejoicing in health, and making trial of their new-found powers…. As He passed through the towns and cities He was like a vital current, diffusing life and joy wherever He went.
The followers of Christ are to labor as He did. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the suffering and afflicted. We are to minister to the despairing, and inspire hope in the hopeless…. The love of Christ, manifested in unselfish ministry, will be more effective in reforming the evildoer than will the sword or the court of justice. These are necessary to strike terror to the lawbreaker, but the loving missionary can do more than this. Often the heart will harden under reproof; but it will melt under the love of Christ…. Through His servants, God designs that the sick, the unfortunate, those possessed of evil spirits, shall hear His voice. Through His human agencies He desires to be a Comforter such as the world knows not. (pp. 350-351)
God is bending from His throne to hear the cry of the oppressed. To every sincere prayer He answers, “Here am I.” He uplifts the distressed and downtrodden. In all our afflictions He is afflicted. In every temptation and every trial the angel of His presence is near to deliver.
Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father’s notice. Satan’s hatred against God leads him to hate every object of the Saviour’s care. He seeks to mar the handiwork of God, and he delights in destroying even the dumb creatures. It is only through God’s protecting care that the birds are preserved to gladden us with their songs of joy. But He does not forget even the sparrows. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (pp. 356-357)
- In what ways do I see my life calling as consistent with the work and way of Jesus?
- Which do we as a community of faith tend to emphasize in evangelism (this chapter is about evangelism), preaching or acts of mercy?
- How is God using me to be a comforter to the world? Am I cooperating or trying to avoid this?
- Do I hear the cry of the oppressed? If not, why not? If I am, how am I responding?
- How might Satan be influencing humanity to destroy the animals and the natural environment that is necessary for human thriving? How can we work for God to preserve God’s good creation?