About a month ago, two visitors appeared at my door. You know the ones I’m talking about. Baby-faced, slightly post-adolescent men in suits and ties. Their name tags begin with the title “Elder”, but they aren’t fooling anybody.
I don’t really know why I answered the door. I was in the middle of eating lunch and watching Fox News. In the past, whenever these missionaries came to our house, I would pretend I wasn’t home. They weren’t going to convert me, and I was afraid to try to talk with them. But this day was different, and the difference was that I listened to the Holy Spirit. I opened the door and engaged in a weighty dialogue for the next two hours.
I didn’t convince my Mormon friends that Jesus is enough. In fact, I’m sure they left feeling sorry for me. I pray that maybe someday it will just click for them, but it might not.
I’ve thought a lot about theology and evangelism in the days since. I’ve read a lot of commentaries and listened to a lot of sermons. What is the difference between Christianity and Mormonism? I’m not really asking that question: I know the answers and I am confident that I know the Truth. But it’s hard to explain that to someone who tells you that you’re not allowed to use the Bible in defense of your argument (only the King James Version insofar as it is accurately translated – that’s crap). Really, it makes for a rather unlevel playing field…
The reason I bring this up now is because today at church Bill gave a very simple but profound answer to the question. What makes our religion different from the rest, be it Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Catholicism (and before you get angry and stop reading, I am NOT saying that all Catholics are going to hell)? The aforementioned religions all have different definitions of “the good life”, they have this in common: the good life is difficult, and not everyone will live it. We, however, do not think that the Christian life is difficult. Nope. Not difficult at all. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!!!! No matter what I do, I can never live a life that pleases God, that fully satisfies the standards He requires. I simply cannot.
I can’t… “There is no one righteous, not even one.”
…BUT HE CAN! Peter writes, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Paul tells us that this power “is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” And if those two men don’t have enough credibility for you, hear the words of Christ himself. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
This is the difference. I can’t but He can, for I am in Him, and He is in me.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!”
Amen and Amen.