This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey.
You will find so-called Mormonism to be a growing, vibrant, dynamic, and challenging church, indeed a way of life, touching upon every avenue of living, every facet of life.
What an interesting way to describe the church: “challenging.” Other words you could pick include: demanding, exacting, and strict. From the same talk:
Prophets say the same things because we face basically the same problems. Brothers and sisters, the solutions to these problems have not changed. It would be a poor lighthouse that gave off a different signal to guide every ship entering a harbor. It would be a poor mountain guide who, knowing the safe route up a mountainside, took his trusting charges up unpredictable and perilous paths from which no traveler returns.
There are a lot of people who wish that the Church would changes its message on fundamental matters of morality. It’s not going to happen. The challenge, the demand, the exacting expectations are here to stay. Discipleship is difficult by design.
President Monson described how, “for [those] who have loved and lost dear ones, each dawn is hopeless,” this being “the experience of those who regard the grave as the end and immortality as but a dream.”
Against this darkness, President Monson contrasts the reality of a literal resurrection:
This is the knowledge that sustains. This is the truth that comforts. This is the assurance that guides those bowed down with grief out of the shadows and into the light.
There are many who see Christianity—perhaps all religion—as a kind of cosmic bribe. If you are good, then you can have a reward. I understand the misperception, but it is misperception. The deliberate difficulty of the discipleship is not some arbitrary test for which divine blessings are meted out, like a trainer putting a dog through an obedience course.
But there is a symmetry. It is simply not the symmetry of a barter or exchange or tit-of-tat. It is the deeper symmetry or resonance. Discipleship is part of a shaping process that fundamental changes who we are, and prepares us to recognize, receive, and appreciate the blessings God has prepared for His children.
It is less, “If you are good, you can have something nice,” and more “If you strive to become good, you will—with God’s help—become good; and the truly good truly experience joy.”
The apparently transactional nature of the relationships is an illusion, but the symmetry is not. The challenge matches the reward. Much is asked; much is given.
- President Monson’s Witness of the Resurrection of Christ by Daniel Ortner
- Family History: Does Your Garden Grow? by Jan Tolman
- A practical God by Marilyn Nielson