Busy as Bees
Last week, Jon blogged about Mormonism as a culture. One of its cultural characteristics is busyness. This is seen in Utah’s state symbol and motto. Its symbol is the beehive. Its motto is industry – a word found both on its flag and seal. Even the uniquely Mormon word “Deseret” reflects this. “Deseret” is the name for the honeybee in the Book of Mormon. And it’s a word you often see in LDS communities. There are Deseret bookstores and Deseret Industries. One of the newspapers in Salt Lake City is the Deseret News.
Mormonism glorifies industry and success. Often persons who have experienced worldly success are the ones called to important positions in the church. For example, the current living LDS prophet was a renowned heart surgeon. His first counselor was a member of the Utah Supreme Court. His other counselor was on the faculty of Stanford.
Work is also part and parcel of LDS salvation. A widely quoted Book of Mormon passage states that: “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). The LDS Bible Dictionary says: “Grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient.” Even when it comes to their salvation, Mormons are busy as bees.
And their work doesn’t end at death. On the contrary, Mormonism teaches that people continue to work after death in the spirit world. Mormon spirits are on missions to try and convert non-Mormon spirits. Other Mormon spirits work on their progression to perfection. At last Fall’s General Conference one of their apostles gave a talk entitled, “Be Ye Therefore Perfect – Eventually”. In it he stated: “If we persevere, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete” (Ensign, Nov,2017, p. 42). Even in eternity, they will be busy as bees.
So how does this affect our witness? Since the idea of work and industry are so engrained in them, we need to know going in that it will be very difficult for them to think of not working as a positive - even in and especially when it comes to their salvation. Many are literally dumbfounded when we tell them people don’t need to do anything to be saved – that everything has already been done by Jesus. A couple of years ago I addressed this in a blog entitled “The Sledge Hammer of a Free Gift”.
This holds true even with those Mormons who are so tired of trying to earn God’s favor that they have given up. They haven’t left the LDS Church but they have become inactive. Even they, however, don’t always immediately respond positively to our message. Again, the idea of work has become so deeply rooted in them that they will need to hear it repeatedly and time to absorb it.
The bottom line is we need to be patient and persevere. We can’t become discouraged if their first response is not encouraging. In fact, we should expect it. But we can remain confident because God’s Word is so powerful. There are many ex-Mormons who now are Christians who can testify to that.