Poking the Bear

exception1I loath to admit this, I was an arrogant missionary during my first year. Clothed in my new Swedish knit suit and armed with a testimony of the only true and living church, I was ready to fight any church that got in my way.

As soon as my companion and I felt more comfortable with the German language, we purposely sought out Catholic and Protestant clergy inviting them to hear our message before we converted their flock.

exception2Needless to say, we were not well received after poking that bear.

Unfortunately, the misuse of membership in God’s church was not unique to my youthful exuberance. Indeed, the tragedy of the Mormon’s expulsion from Missouri and the horrors that ensued had its roots with the saints accentuating their exceptionalism as members of God’s kingdom. Their Zionist exuberance served only to alienate, threaten, and anger their neighbors.

exception5So, what am I saying? As members of God’s church are we to hide that light on a hill and not be a beacon to the world?

That wouldn’t be right. In fact, it goes against what Christ taught. 

Perhaps a better understanding of the importance of having God’s church on earth can help us avoid the timeless problem with the excesses of exceptionalism.

The church itself is an organization run by people. Over the years, that organization has changed to accommodate growth and to work better with different cultures.

For example, years ago Sunday meetings were an all-day event. To better accommodate a global church, the leaders introduced the current three-hour block. 

Not only have there been changes in scheduling, there have also been fundamental changes is the organization of the church.

Older members remember each ward having a Quorum of Seventy’s. But these were disbanded. Now there are multiple Quorums of Seventy’s at the general level and the introduction of Area Authority Seventy throughout the world. 

So, it is safe to say that the living part of the church is found in the revealed changes necessary to keep pace with the needs to the saints. But I feel the truth of the church lies outside this evolving organization.

exception3God stated His work and glory is our immortality and eternal life. A vital part of Him bringing about His goals is found in the saving covenants and ordinances of the Priesthood. As members of the church we become guardians of those saving covenants.

As guardians, we need to work with God to make sure those seeking to bind themselves to Him are prepared, worthy, and constantly nurtured.

I don’t think we act as good guardians when we tear down the faith and believes of others or bludgeon them with the constant reminder that our church is better than theirs.

I am convinced we become better guardians when we seek to build upon the good that other churches provide their members. The sooner we stop assuming our church gives us a monopoly of good, the better guardians we will be.


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