What is that which turns people away from this Church? Very trifling affairs are generally the commencement of their divergence from the right path. If we follow a compass, the needle of which does not point correctly, a very slight deviation in the beginning will lead us, when we have traveled some distance, far to one side of the true point for which we are aiming
I wonder if folks stop coming to church or leave the church because their experience isn’t rich enough. Our churches are plain, our services are plain, and for the most part routine. We don’t have the drama and ritual of other denominations, or the passion, for that matter. “Put your shoulder to the wheel” could be the Mormon motto and, at the outset, doesn’t sound like much fun. The church moves like an old freight train on a straight track; always moving forward steadily, while the world around it moves in chaotic, and, depending you your view, perhaps exciting, whirlwinds. In General Conference, the church leaders never come out with grand pronouncements of change or impending rapture. The answers to every question is always love, charity, forgiveness, prayer, scripture study and repentance. There are no literal crusades for Christ and in the end everyone gets to heaven.
I see people (albeit few, but even one is too many) leaving the mainstream church and moving to these “apostate” versions of the Mormon church. These new break offs sure sound exciting! I mean, you know…..they make “announcements” and have grand ideas and developing ideologies. They can make the spiritually burned out feel as if they are IN the gospel and not just another number in a pew as a member of a pacifist church, with limited temporal power, that is afraid to come down with any real opinion of what’s going on in the world. Maybe the Holy Spirit isn’t loud enough or bold enough in their lives so they must go and find some way to be loud themselves. Perhaps, the big callings that come with prestige and recognition have passed them by. They are effectively leaving the steady routing of the freight train for the rocket ship.If God came to me and told me…like in versions of Genesis 22 “take your son up to the mountains and tie him up and then kill him as a sacrifice,” I wouldn’t say “No,” I would say “Hell, no!” But guess what? God won’t come to me and ask me to do that. Why? Because my Heavenly Father and I don’t have that kind of relationship. My relationship, like most of yours, with our Heavenly Father is one of passivity. Unlike Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, whose relationship with God was close, mine is not. Unlike Abraham, I do not devote all my days to his good works, or for further understanding, or for guidance. I live the gospel mostly passively and with no steady frequency, in bursts of devotion, thus the “missions” assigned to me are not all that noteworthy. I am too much in this world to be asked by God to do to much more than my Primary calling. So when we hear our church leaders reassure us that God has a plan for us, are we expecting too much? Well, we get what we deserve.
When I first joined the church and began really trying to listen to the Holy Spirit and promptings, it was awesome. I ignored much of them at first because they took me out of my comfort zone. But soon enough, I began following the promptings and found myself knowing that I really was doing the work of the Lord as humble and as simple as my tasks were. And, as time went on, the promptings became more specific and more involved. But life happens and the next thing you know, if you don’t stoke your spiritual fire and you are not so eager to follow any kind of prompting, either for service or self preservation, you don’t get much in return. I do testify! Why would God ask you or me to do anything grand if we can’t even handle the lesser grand tasks of simply following his commandments? Heck, how hard is it to keep the Sabbath day holy? How hard is it really, to not commit adultery? And really now, not lying, that should be easy-peasy! So no, God is not going to ask anyone I know, to kill a son as a sacrifice, or go into the wilderness to receive the 10 commandments or even restore the gospel. And that may be a good thing, who wants to sacrifice a child. But we have other work to do.
If you are new to the gospel then you will feel the Holy Spirit inspire you to perform simple tasks. They may not seem small if you are new to the gospel. But if you learn to follow the spirit’s promptings, then you will find that you will be tasked with greater and greater jobs. Our Heavenly Father tasks each one of us with simple tasks at first. Treat you family kindly and with the respect they deserve. Get the heck off Facebook and read to your kids. Then, when you conquer something small like that, he might ask you to bring a meal or a treat to someone in need. He might inspire you to sing at the nursing home, or make sure the child of a friend gets driven to soccer camp. The inspirations to do good get meatier and meatier But if you’ve been in the church for a long time, maybe you have taken these promptings for granted, you snack through Fast Sunday, you sleep through your primary calling, you get headaches Sunday morning that magically disappear by the time your family returns from church. In return for this commitment you feel that the church has gotten hum-drum and your passion is waning. If you are no longer getting those quality promptings, consider equating these feelings with being in a marriage. Humdrum? passion is waning? looking for more action in a more exciting gospel…. eh? What any good marriage counselor will tell you is that it takes work to make a good marriage. Effort equals results, right? If you are feeling like dabbling outside your marriage…. I mean covenant with the Lord, it may be time to rekindle that relationship with your Heavenly Father. Here’s a list of things you can do to get yourself out of that passionless testimony.
- Get rid of cable ( shock and awe, Baby!)
- Stop Smoking (a pack a day smoker gains 140 minutes of time per day and the chaos basically pushes the reset button on your life)
- Stop your secret trips to Starbucks, its not like everyone doesn’t know.
- Talk to the bishop and tell him that you need some help rekindling that passionless relationship you’re having with the gospel.
- Pray… on your knees, not as a fleeting thought driving in the car on your way to IKEA.
- Dig out the scriptures in paper format. Set the Kindle aside. And, as you sit there cursing yourself for cancelling cable, treat yourself to Luke 12:27
- Pray sincerely for a service opportunity and then promise yourself that you will actually do whatever you are tasked. Watch out, it might be a doozy.
Stop cheating with those more exciting doctrines that have nothing to do with truth, or the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are simply experiencing a mid-testimony crisis, so don’t let that dabbling turn into a full blown affair.