Our group has a unique view of the mainstream Church. We believe that it still has a role in promoting the Gospel, by it's missionary work and by it's geneological work for the dead. And so, when the missionaries invited me to hear M Russel Ballard speak on missionary work, I decided it wouldn't hurt anything to go. I have a good relationship with the Church, and many friends in it, but I sometimes get frustrated with the Church's members.
So that's why, last night, I was standing in the Salt Lake City Institute of Religion Building, watching literally thousands of people crowd in to fill the plastic chairs line dup in the auditorium. The missionaries were standing at the door, handing out pass-along cards for people to give their friends, and the Institute Missionary Council had a table set up to hand out referral cards. I watched, struggling to keep my jaw from dropping, as streams and streams of hundreds of peopel funnelled past the missionaries, not one of them bothering to make eye contact as a card was shoved in their hands. I continued to watch as person after person passed by the woman at the table, completely ignoring her as she tried to hand them a referral card, treating her with as much disrespect as they would a sidewalk salesman who was harrassing them when they were in a hurry.
Watching this scene with me was a man who looked about my age. As I was backing up I accidentally backed into him, so I introduced myself and he started to tell his story. He ahd been raised in the Church, but when he was a teenager he rebelled and wound up wrecking his life. But he struggled and did all that he could and, after over a year of trying to become worthy to become missionary, he finally lived the dream and put in his mission papers. That morning, he read the reply from the Church office building. He was turned down to serve a mission. As he told me the story, the pain was obvious in his eyes. When he finished his story, he picke dup a stack of pass-along cards and helped the missionaries hand them out.
There were two sets of missionaries handing out cards, two people manning the table, and my new friend. All together that made seven people. Seven out of thousands. Seven who cared.
I worry about the Church. It seems to be falling further and further from it's roots. And yet, I can't pass judgement. There are LDS people who would line the streets just to shake hands with the Prophet. In my group, the Prophet gave a talk on dress standards and modesty that has largely been ignored. When it's spoken about, it is often relegated to the position of "just his opinion."
What is it that makes us do this? What is it that makes all of us, including me, fail to see the beautiful gift that we have? Instead, it's so easy to think about the next thing on our schedules or the next place we ahve to be. And in this mad rush to accomplish something we see as important, we miss out on the true calling God has placed on our lives. How often do we Fundamentalists do the same thing these Church memebers do? We pass up the real point so that we can put a check mark in the next box. And we miss a chance to love others, to put ourselves out there and make something eternal of our lives.
What's the solution? I'm not sure. Recognizing the problem is a part of it. I guess the only real solution is a change of heart that can only happen through Christ's grace. God can change us. He can make us notice these things and see the world as He does. And that is what will save us, even more than vigilance on our behalf.