Be sure to read (or at least scroll) to the bottom of this document for important prayer requests and announcements, including a baptismal service & church potluck this Sabbath!
Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
April 20th, 2022
“Jesus… for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
I hope you and your families had a blessed Easter weekend. After our special church service on Sabbath*, we had an early Sunday morning hike with about 20 of us, which was lovely, despite the fact that the sunrise was obscured by cloud cover to the east. But we sang some songs, and discussed the contrast of our happy hiking vs. the dreadful task the women (thought they) were on their way to do that early Sunday morning so many centuries ago. We talked about how Christ conquered in victory over the grave & the tomb, and promises to share that victory with everyone who allies themselves with Him, believing in His name. (John 3:16)
Then, this week, we hosted a choral group for a choral workshop at the Anaheim church one evening, and the same group sang for our Orangewood sister school the following morning. And I was so blessed, in both circumstances, with both the aesthetic beauty of what I was perceiving, and also the concept of young people building their talents, developing their abilities for the glory of God. I couldn’t help, in contrast, thinking of all the darkness, tragedy, shame, and ugliness in the world: dysfunctional & broken families, crime & vice, and of course, as we’re currently seeing going on in Ukraine, the horrors and tragedies of war.
And I couldn’t help but be wrapped up in the thought of: look what beauty and loveliness we can aspire to, yet what depravity & debauchery we can descend to! And I thought: truly this reveals our dualistic nature: we come from the hand of Divinity, purity, and perfection, yet are corrupted by sin with selfishness, vice, and destructive capabilities. Truly the Great Controversy is being played out societally, as well as in each of us!
Now, secularists would deny that either source of that which I mentioned above really exist: they would say the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ we exhibit are just flip-sides of the coin of reality, and should not be seen as anything special or strange. Perhaps, even more extremely, they would posit that ‘good and bad’ don’t really exist at all (perhaps being mental, social constructs), and therefore shouldn’t even be reflected or remarked on.
Such a view begins getting close to the ‘yin & yang’ concept of eastern philosophy, which states that good and evil are locked in a perpetual cycle around each-other, and that even the good has a little bad in it, and the bad has a little good in it. While such a philosophy may be a way to make some sense of what we see in the world, it is in the end utterly depressing, in that it jettisons hope for any resolution, any solution, or even any improvement in the overall situation. If you try to maximize the good, the evil will rise to be right there beside it. Under such a belief, one could even call ‘heroic’ those who maximize evil, because good would also necessarily arise to counterbalance it! One can see that this leads to relativism, fatalism, and ultimately lack of hope for anything ever fundamentally good and lasting happening.
But we are called to actively resist & protest any such philosophy and its conclusions. I for one am so glad that we believe one of these is older than the other, more the ‘default position of the universe’ than the other, and will ultimately outlast and outcompete the other. I am obviously talking about the “good” being original in God from everlasting, being the ‘equilibrium state’ of the universe, and being that which will outlast all other distractions and detours, and even of any material creation itself. Meanwhile, the “bad”, though being a horrible scourge of devastation, is at root a foreign invader, a detour from God’s will, but one that will eventually be defeated.
From the first Messianic prophecy in the Garden of Eden, of Adam & Eve’s offspring crushing the head of the serpent, even as the serpent strikes a blow to the heel of the descendant (Genesis 3:15), it was told firmly & reliably that the power of the serpent would have an end. We should rejoice in this!
I cannot think of any better news, friends, than that sin will have its final day, its promised destruction, and its eventual nonexistence. And all the beauty, all the loveliness, all the excellence and wonder that we experience will be maximized to the utter extreme! And so it will be for all time. “Affliction will not rise up a second time” Nahum 1:9 promises us.
So let’s never give in to the pessimism that is the resignation to evil as a perpetual part of reality (perhaps even one that shouldn’t be striven against, but rather accepted & possibly embraced). Let’s hold out hope that Ultimate Good will come and conquer, obliterating evil & sin into the rear-view mirror of existence, fading in the rear distance as we continue forward. May such a hope ever motivate and spurn us to good actions, words, and motives in all we do.
May God bless you & your families this week and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum
* Last week’s Easter church service is available on video here in case you missed it: https://youtu.be/LNHq4ip0_WE