Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Scandalous Grace - Vent

Recently, our pastor touched upon what he called, "scandalous grace". He was referring to Jonah who hated the Assyrians and didn't want God to have grace upon them.

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (Jonah 4:1-2)

I never thought I would be guilty of this - of wanting to with hold the gospel from anyone. And yet, I realize that I avoid a certain group - not because of not wanting them to experience God's grace, but because of my own selfishness. (On a sidebar, I uploaded a sermon from Manna recently for a friend of mine on Selfish People - very convicting, if you get a chance I highly recommend taking a lunch break and listening to.)

Latter Day Saints. Who would have guessed it? ;) Brigham Young taught the following:

"they will not be trusted either for good or evil; and if they go to hell they will be despised by the damned. That is the condition of apostates. Why? Because they are traitors, and having lied about one thing they will lie about another; having lied once they will lie again. " --Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 13:, p.218 - 219 (Another sidebar - this brings into question when Brigham Young began teaching about the "lie" of an eternal hell and when this particular doctrine evolved and what particular in history was surrounding these events.)

Of course, as sharp tongued as Brigham Young was - the meek and humble Prophet Joseph Smith was surprisingly as well. Even when "evil men" weren't crashing through the doors in the middle of a service (see the apologetic answer for why Joseph "boasted" he was better than Jesus).

"I testify again, as the Lord lives, God never will acknowledge any traitors or apostates. Any man who will betray the Catholics will betray you; and if he will betray me, he will betray you."
1844-June 16-DHC 6:473-479
SERMON by the Prophet-The Christian Godhead-Plurality of Gods.
Meeting in the Grove, east of the Temple, June 16, 1844

(What happened to grace? Forgiveness?)

I'm not sure when perhaps the LDS church became politcally correct - but these type of remarks have continued well into the 20th century. The message handed down to each generation of members.

"Apostates, liars, and deceivers may write and speak untruths, but so persecuted they the prophets in all ages." (quoting Bruce R. McConkie in Improvement Era 1946)

Apostate = liar = deceiver = the same people who persecuted (and remember slaughtered) the prophets of the Old Testament. How lovely.

I know - even before I heard BY's teachings on the "apostates" (those vile evil creatures! :P ) I never trusted ex-Mormons. If they were trust worthy, why on Earth would they be ex-Mormons?

Reap what you sow - I will have that verse and reference memorized soon.

As now an ex-Mormon, I now also carry this stigma. No one seems to hear a word I say! When I blog or post about my journey and how God is working in my life - it must surely be a lie since, after all, I am an ex-Mormon. When I explain LDS doctrine to active "Chapel Mormons" then I must surely be lying or ignorant or fooled by those darn "anti-Mormons" because I am after all, an ex-Mormon. I want to bash my head against a wall.

And so, I hesitate now about sharing my story upon request. It's almost as if after all these months I went from this shy girl sharing her story to finally being able to say - face to face to Latter Day Saints WHY I left and why I remained out of the church.

Why share one's story when asked when all that's going to happen is that one receiving the story is going to say the following:

1) LDS: "Well I hope you find what you're looking for."
Me: "I didn't go looking for anything."

2) LDS: "I'm sorry that Satan has won you over. Please know you can return to God's true church at any time. God is always waiting with His arms wide open for you."
Me: "It was God who told me to leave. I triple checked my Bible - it fit the Spirit and not the devil. It's God."
LDS: "Sure it is."

3) LDS: "You've damned yourself to hell."
Me: "The LDS church doesn't even believe or teach about an eternal hell. You do realize that don't you? The BIBLE does - because Hell is real, but the LDS church doesn't."
LDS: "That's not true."
Me: "Yes it is. Read the following by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young."
LDS: "No, you're wrong. You misunderstood."
Me: "Go ask your Bishop."

4) LDS: "I'm sorry you're having a hard time with church." (Or the standards.)
Me: "I'm not and I wasn't."

5) LDS: "So you've sinned?"
Me: "You do realize we are all sinners only saved by grace? But to answer your question, no I wasn't breaking any of my temple covenants, the Word of Wisdom, or any other "major" commandments. No I wasn't sinning like you imply."

6) LDS: "So you were a jack-Mormon or a cultural Mormon?"
Me: "No, I was pretty hardcore. I centered my life around the church."

And yet - nope, I'm still assumed a liar. I don't want to share my story with any of them anymore because I'm sick of the same lines every time. Nothing I say from the Bible is going to reason with them - there is no reasoning with them because everything is based on what they "know to be true" via feelings or distorted definitions of Biblical terms like eternity, beginning, end, created, and so forth. There was no reasoning with me. I'd have none of it. Why I expect others to be more movable than I was is beyond me.

I am surrounded by Latter Day Saints - my family, remaining friends, and community at times (depends on who is moving in and out lately) and yet I have come to tango with sharing my story - just as I did with my parents - because I am tired of the same old rejection over and over and over. The assumptions. I don't see how sharing my story, my journey, or what God is doing in my life is at all productive when it's simply turned around and credited to Satan anyways. So, do I want to share with LDS? NO.

God has moved my life, yet I still have LDS friends who leave Book of Mormon thoughts for me. The LDS family I babysit for talks with me as if I'm simply sick or ill and will return to the ward shortly. My Visiting Teachers talk to me as if I still believe the Book of Mormon or other two standard works are true and assume I'll be joining them for activities. I've been gone for six months, I'm removing my name from the rolls, I'm not coming back. The most rational one in my whole life so far has been my former Bishop, who so far has been pretty awesome about removing my name and helping me through the process.

I have become so disillusioned that anyone will ever reach practicing Latter Day Saints with the freeing, liberating gospel of Jesus Christ. Then God reminds me that no one reached Steve or I with the gospel either. The Holy Spirit did it all through several interactions. While others in our lives totally gave up and never thought we'd leave the LDS church - others who we would have never expected to, were praying "without ceasing" for our salvation. Steve's twin brother, Dan, and his wife Jessica are Christians and prayed for years that we'd come to Christ. They shared the Bible, they put themselves out there - only to be shut down by us.

" Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows" - Gal 6:7

When Dan and Jess shared the gospel with us, tried to warn us about the LDS church, and stood firm in their convictions - we didn't honor them in a Christian behavior but did what we felt we had been taught in the church to do. We cut them off. We left them in the dust. We went off and on for 2-3 years without talking or interacting with them unless needed. We wouldn't have anyone who was so "anti-Mormon" around us or endangering the spiritual welfare of our children. So while I hate that I feel like I'm sowing what I've reaped, I totally and completely understand their (my parents) mindset should our relationship mirror that between Steve and I and Dan and Jess.

I look at their example and am very impressed - especially with as badly as we behaved towards them anytime they would bring up "anti-Mormon" literature and our reoccurring resentment towards them for bringing it up in the first place.

In the midst of this frustrating time in my life, I have to wonder - which is more difficult - parting the Red Sea or changing the hearts of the hardened and deceived?

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