Last week, I had an eye-opening conversation with my great uncle, Robert Koide, or as I call him, Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob was raised in a half-Japanese, half-Hawaiian household. Growing up, he was exposed to different Christian denominations. His mother was a Catholic, and his grandfather was a Methodist. He was first introduced to Adventism when he was eight years old.
He attended the Adventist academy in Hawaii, Hawaiian Mission Academy, and went to Walla Walla University, which at the time was called Walla Walla College. However, he is not an Adventist. He used to be a member of the church, but he decided to leave in 2010 because he does not believe that certain Adventist doctrines align with the Bible.
Uncle Bob said he didn’t start studying scripture in-depth until 2006. Those studies led to his eventual departure from the church. Although he is always willing to share about his beliefs, he doesn’t force his opinion on anybody. He doesn’t judge Adventists who choose to stay in the church, either.
“It’s between them and God, that’s all,” he said. “And it’s between me and my God as to … my relationship.”
When people ask Uncle Bob about his denomination or if he has a title within a church, he simply tells them, “I am a disciple of Christ. That’s all I want, nothing more. I just want to be that.”
I was really impressed by Uncle Bob’s attitude. Even though he disagrees with some Adventist doctrines, he still shows genuine love, kindness and respect to the church members. He does not look down on people or judge them for their differing beliefs. Instead, he focuses on his own relationship with Christ.
As someone fatigued by the politicization of religion, I found Uncle Bob’s perspective refreshing. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a religious conversation that focused on the personal relationship with Christ. Especially today, most of my conversations about religion tend to focus on other things such as the relationship with the rules or relationships with others. My focus strayed away from what should have been the foundation: Jesus Christ.
The Bible says not to put your confidence in man because they will only disappoint you. It also states that we cannot be saved by the law. Instead of founding our faith on these things, scripture calls for us to trust in God.
“He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:2)
I appreciated my conversation with Uncle Bob. Through it, I recognized the practicality of this lesson by not just his words, but also by his example.