The trouble with humanity is that when something wonderful come into their lives they want to share it.
Except when the wonderful “thing” requires, no, EXACTS, difficult things from them. No way do I want to share a hard-work religion with others. It just isn’t popular in our “push-button”, grace-only, secular-Christian world.
But, I’m not talking about Ephesians 2 “Mosaic works and ordinances”. I’m talking about a religion that requires it’s members to covenant to LIVE IT FULLY! And I admit, along with millions of others striving to live it, that it can be downright difficult. Let’s see…how else can I say it? It is:
Hard. Strenuous. Arduous. Laborious. Tough. Onerous. Burdensome. Demanding. Fatiguing. Inconvenient. Untimely.
Now, because of this “weighty” lifestyle of choice I sometimes find myself feeling futility. In my worst of times when I’m doubting and the devil zings me with hate and depression I sometimes can’t see logic to my choice. I “get” why “many are called, but few are chosen”. I “get” why the Church grows in vast numbers every year, but loses a percentage of them very quickly.
It isn’t because it is difficult BAD.
It is because it is difficult GOOD.
We are asked to be GOOD. Really, really GOOD. It is hard, so, we find covert means for being less-than-obedient that would stun a sophisticated escape artist.
I realized recently that I take this privilege of hard work for Godliness…for granted.
In the scheme of things NONE of us would want it any other way. In fact I believe that our most ardent enemies might, on their death beds, justify their attacks this way,
“I fought it because I didn’t think ANYONE could live it…but in the end I admire it and wish I would have tried to live it!”
Because of a childlike reality that achieving Goodness is hard work. Goodness’ works are their own reward. They form the foundation of love, caring and fairness. Thus, a Church of this order of magnitude is FAR too brilliant, important, mind-stretching, edifying and engrossing to haplessly try to dodge. And, though the world maligns it there’s really no good way to escape it.
A boyhood friend who left the Church in his early thirties told me recently that it doesn’t matter when you leave the Church…if you lived it at any given time or “if you were raised in it then you’re a ‘Mormon’ whether you like it or not.”
So, I’ve come to the conclusion again that I must give it all I’ve got, and I’m born-again-AGAIN proud of it. I’ve studied every side of it from apologist to antagonist to atheistic enemy and the fact remains that although there are good, better and best aspects of it there are also some dazzlingly odd and even crazy-weird elements that drive my non-believer friends to distraction.
A bit of background…
My ancestry goes back to a guy named, Joseph Smith, SENIOR. So, in one form-of-family or another I’ve been part of this American-Grown Faith since before it’s inception in 1830. Sadly, with all that comes of the pedigree I’ve actually looked for something better, but I didn’t find anything that comes close…well…unless you count some of those amazing stadium gatherings, Gospel choirs and double-drummer bands they have. (We do have the MoTab.)
So, why is it THIS Church different and important?
Because…the relentless day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-after-year rigor of discipleship provides something fundamentally rare that the world cannot:
NOT AS THE WORLD GIVETH. This peace is unique and precious.
But, if you’re reading this and rolled your eyes (or vigorously nodded your head) you need to know that what I’m talking about isn’t imaginary or manufactured. This PEACE is real. And it makes everything required to get it worthwhile.
I’d suggest that what I am part of is truly a society of “spiritual scientists” that are just as competent and capable in context as are physicists, geologists, biochemists, etc. Most important the experiments of faith that I have tried and succeeded with are repeatable.
And the benefits and advantages are palpable.
What I admire most about my chosen Faith is that whatever it does right it does it in a big way. And whatever it seems to do wrong, by the world’s standards, or even by my own standards, it works overtime to make up with fairness and equity.
So it just keeps getting better in the midst of a rising tide of hatred toward religion.
Another thing I admire is that I get to hear from a plethora of the finest minds on the planet every six months. Our General Conferences provide us with over 25 speakers from all over the world. They range from a rare few that make me feel so bored that I’d drive a fork through my left nostril to the majority that are OUTSTANDING. ON the whole these special bi-yearly speakers bring a “peaceful and easy” feeling to me unlike anything that the world gives.
And it isn’t like I’m living in a naive cloister when it comes to speakers and change agents. My wife and I worked with several of the greatest speakers of all time and I admit that…
But, these Spiritual Wordsmiths are better.
One of them, Elder Jeffrey Holland, gives an OUTSTANDING talk–on demand–every time he speaks. His aren’t slick rah-rah pep talks that wear off on the way home; they are POWERFUL and PENETRATING, SALIENT and PRACTICAL, TIMELY and TIMELESS.
We’ve come to expect this, but I think you’d love them. Here’s one:
Consider my challenge. Listen to this on Sunday and pay attention to what your Monday (tomorrow) could be like vs what it is now because if your Monday is dreadful then what he is eloquently saying…just might make Mondays utterly bearable for you.