Teaching Series
Jesus Manifesto
Sunday—Getting Free from the World to Make a Difference

Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Free from the World to Make a Difference
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Colossians 2:16-3:4 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: I love Sabbath School. If you have never heard of this term, maybe you have heard of Sunday School instead. Our church founders, when they pulled together our denomination (or tribe as I prefer to call it), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in the  late 1800s, looked at their own varied heritage from several tribes. They selected what they believed were the most Jesus-focused approaches to church. 

These people had sharp minds and loved to debate about theology (the art of studying God). They opted to copy the Sunday School concept and reframe it for their context and set of values and beliefs. They also chose to worship around the same time as everyone else did—just on Saturday instead of Sunday. Hence Sabbath School. There are lots of names for it today: discipleship groups or connect groups to name just two. 

The early founders’ desire was to be as faithful to the Bible as possible and thereby lift up Jesus. As a fifth or sixth generation (depending how you count) Seventh-day Adventist, Sabbath School was in my DNA before I was conceived. I believe that my parents chose mine and my youngest brother’s names based on the topic being studied during Sabbath School the quarter we were born. I am Japhet (third son of Noah) and my youngest brother is Melchizedek (King of Salem in Genesis 14). 

Sabbath school for me as a child was absolutely amazing. Audrey Anderson (now one of the key church leaders for the Trans-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists) was a kid teaching children about Jesus. She was my teacher. She was simply brilliant. I wanted to go to class every single week. To look in the mirror and sing, “Who has come to Sabbath School? Japhet, Japhet.” Now, come to think of it, that song sounds rather narcissistic, but not to a little kid . . .

The struggle for me, however, with Sabbath School, is that by the time I was thirteen, it was no longer about learning who Jesus was through the Bible. It was about truth. It was about trashing the opposition. Memorizing texts and being able to recite them. Defending the truth against all odds. A typical teenage phase. (Or, some might argue, a typical teenage phase in my weird world.) I soon discovered that there were others like me. All the way through to my late teens and early years of college, this seemed to be the purpose of Sabbath School. Teaching truth. Proving that I knew the Hebrew and Greek meanings behind everyone’s thoughts! 

As I studied the passage this week, I found that this was also the glaring reality that Paul faced 2,000 years ago. “Let no one pass judgement on you,” he writes. That means those who appear to expect—and even demand—that you  be a particular way. Clearly they must have had some heated Sabbath School discussions back in his day. But the lesson is simple: keep your eyes on Jesus. 

Recalibrate: What makes your Sabbath School (discipleship group, connect group) a place that draws others to Jesus?

Respond: Ask Jesus to help you process your motives when speaking of good things. 

Research: Read Isaiah 1:18, then read the context. How does this verse relate to faith development?

Remember: “Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth” (Colossians 3:3, ICB).

Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.

If you are a regular reader of Live Wonder Daily Walk, you will know that we, Rod and I, have a granddaughter. Her name is Zoe and she has just turned two. We love our Zoe. We have agreed that whenever Zoe is with us all other things take second place. When you choose to love Jesus, all other things take second place. His love is always with you. With your little one, take the time today to rest in His love. You might do that by playing with your child or going for a walk, but whatever you do, just be in the moment, wrapped in love.

Can you make a shadow? Hold your hand up to the light and look around for the shadow. How can you make the shadow move? Can you make your hand look like a rabbit or a dog? Making shadow puppets is fun for a while, but it’s not the real thing. A hand is made to hug and feed and hold and make stuff with. You are made to be so much more than a shadow. Jesus made you so you could hug and hold and move and make your world an amazing place. Jesus wants to do this with you. Ask Him to come play with you and be amazing wherever you are.

Peter Pan was not only an animated character himself, but also had an animated counterpart that followed him around everywhere; his shadow. His shadow wasn’t just the dark outline of his movements but had a mind of its own! Peter’s shadow sort of acted like the little voice in Peter’s head, but it could move and interact with him in real life. If the shadow thought that Peter should do something other than what he was thinking of doing, the shadow would suddenly move on its own and pull at Peter’s leg to stop him from doing something the shadow thought he shouldn’t. And sometimes, Peter would listen to the shadow and take its advice—which would keep Peter out of trouble. 

Paul talks about a shadow in Colossians 2:17 when referring to the teachings of the false prophets wandering the streets of Colossae. Paul says that their teachings were merely a shadow of the substance of Jesus. And he was right! There wasn’t anything to hold on to when the people tried to grasp the false information those preachers were preaching (not even an animated shadow!) Paul instead tells them to hold on to the living Christ who would walk with them in the Light. Because it was the Light that mattered, not the shadow cast from things blocking the light. 

What are some ways you can see shadows working in your life today? How can you adjust your attention from the darkness of the shadow and back to the light that is shining?

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day” (Colossians 2:16). Adventists often place rules and barriers around the Sabbath, limiting the joy and blessings we get from it. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Too often we judge one another by how “well” we “keep” the Sabbath. God is relational and He made the Sabbath as a way for us to joyfully spend time with Him without interruption—not to showcase our loyalty to Him for others’ approval. In every way, God wants a trusting relationship with us.

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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