Sunday, September 18, 2011

For a Broken World

So last night, my roommate Meri invited the Mormons into our humble abode. Elder Dukats and Elder Banks sat around our kitchen island with us and had a chat with Meri, Nikki, and myself, along with the friend they had brought along with them (they are not allowed to go see girls alone without another person).

There are a lot of misconceptions about Mormons, most of which are associated with polygamy. It happened in the past. People who do it now are excommunicated from the Mormon faith. The Mormons do consider themselves to be Christians. Eh. Debatable.

Anyway, these three Mormon guys came to my apartment to evangelize us (well, Meri. Nikki and I were just bonuses, I think). We talked about our backgrounds, our faith, etc and then they asked some questions, encouraged us to ask questions, and gave some answers. Don't get me wrong--you will not see me running around with an "Elder Wasson" nametag any time soon--but overall they seemed like nice, well-meaning guys bent on sharing the gospel. While I disagree with a lot of things they are trying to convince me are real, I think there is a lot to be learned from the Mormons.

In the Church of Latter Day Saints, every young man and woman is given the opportunity, at the age of 19, to spend two years in full time mission service for the church, knocking on doors, talking to people, and handing out copies of the Book of Mormon. While it is not required, a lot of people choose to spend two years getting paid nothing for their service. Why? Because it's important. The Mormon faith is one of the fastest growing in the world for this reason: they emphasize that every member is a missionary. This does not mean that every member because is a full-time, unpaid missionary for the rest of their lives. Rather, it means that everyone's daily life and work is their mission field.

I think the Christian Church as a whole has lost its emphasis on evangelism. In today's society, faith is such a hot button topic that many people hide their faith in a box, only to be taken out with certain people. It's like a dirty little secret. Bring other people to Christ? It's hard enough just going to church on Sunday without EVERYONE WHO DOESN'T LIKE CHRISTIANS finding out, and misinterpreting our actions as something that actually affects our lives.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, hundreds of European missionaries went to Africa to spread the gospel. Things like malaria and cholera ran rampant through Africa, not to mention the often unfriendly natives who viewed the white man as a threat to be eliminated as quickly as possible. When they moved to Africa to bring Christ to the native people, they would often pack their things in wooden boxes that were about 72" long, 24" wide, and 18" deep. Why? That's about the right size for a coffin. Most missionaries would die within three years of arriving, usually from disease. They went, knowing they would likely die.

But they went anyway. Sharing the gospel of Christ was more important to them than their very lives. Today, in our cushy, comfortable lives, full of modern conveniences, we've lost that sense of the importance of bringing others to Christ. We are afraid of what the neighbors would think if we invited them to church, or offered to pray for them. We are afraid of sounding weird, of not being accepted. So, we watch the broken pass us by and do nothing, offer nothing.

At a conference once, a speaker brought up this statistic: There are just under 7 billion people in the world. 2 billion claim to be Christians. If every Christian in the world brought a single person to Christ next week, more than half the world would be Christian. If we continued the trend of each Christian bringing one person to Christ the next week, the entire world would be Christian.

This is not to suggest this is possible (well, anything is possible with God) but rather to make this point: sharing the gospel with one person makes a difference. Praying for one person and bringing them a bible makes a difference. Christ called us the light of the world, yet I think so many of us hide under bushels, terrified that if we dare to shine, someone will want to put us out. Well guess what? The light of Christ will not be extinguished. A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle, only makes the world a brighter place.