There's a popular bumper sticker in the area where I live. It reads, "If We Can Earn It, Why Did He Die?"
I've seen it often enough that I'm looking forward to the next time I do. Playing dumb (sort of) I'd like to ask the vehicle's owner, "what does that mean? I've seen that a lot around here."
I'd imagine he or she might tell me that there are those who believe that their salvation can somehow be earned, by their own works, diminishing or even negating the value (let alone the need) of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Continuing to play dumb, I might be brave enough to ask, "who in the world believes something like that?"
It won't come as a surprise to have them answer, "the Mormons".
I would trade my dumb face in and let them know that, well, I'm a Mormon and I've never been taught that. That isn't what I believe.
Mayble they'll wonder if I've been paying attention in church.
Maybe they won't want to talk to me any more, because, suddenly, they're best bumper sticker isn't as awesome as they thought.
Maybe they'll want to listen.
Don't worry too much about those with these bumper stickers. They're simply expressing an incredibly common mis-conception about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). And the number of bumper stickers is small compared to those who have been told in error that somehow Mormons think they can get to heaven
No wonder! people don't believe that we're really Christians. If what people said about Mormons were true, they'd be right!
In reality, Mormons are Christians who believe in Jesus who was born of Mary in a stable in Bethlehem, who taught in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, who established His church, who was literally the Son of God. This is the same Jesus that is written of in the New Testament in the Bible.
The same Jesus who went in to the garden of Gethsemane and came out bloody; the same Jesus who allowed himself to hang from a cross and who ultimately gave up His life so that each of us could live with Him and His Father again.
This same Jesus who rose from the tomb on the third day; who overcame both spiritual and physical death so that the demands of justice might be met.
A while ago I heard about different main-stream Christian congregations being taught about what Mormons believe. I heard a sentence that started with "well, we've been told that...."
This is disturbing on so many levels.
I'd welcome the news if what was being taught was correct information. But it obviously isn't if the population of bumper stickers is so high.
When people choose a line out of a book and then create opinions out of context; when information is gathered from people who used to be members of the church; when then internet is used...
What has been hardest to come to terms with is that not everyone is looking for truth. They aren't looking for enlightenment.
They're looking to be right and have be wrong what they want to prove wrong. This ensures that everyone loses, and that's too bad.
Sharing beliefs is one of my favorite things to talk about. I don't care about how people think talking politics or religion will only end in argument. It takes two to argue and I won't be one of them. I'm sure others feel the same way.
I also know that it isn't my job to convince or - heaven forbid - convert anyone. That isn't my job. And it's what relieves most of the pressure in talking with someone. The pressure that remains is simply that I get my facts straight.
In summary there are two things to remember: First, no (wo)man can earn (her)his way to heaven (did you know that the word "earn" isn't even mentioned in scripture ANYWHERE?). Second, Jesus is the Christ, our (MY) Savior and Redeemer, the Son of the living God. It is by Him and through Him that we (I) might return to live with God again.
More to come.