Monday, December 23, 2013

The Great Work of the Latter-Days

Okay. This is not going to be a feel-good post at all. If you aren't uncomfortable and wanting to change by the end of this post, read it again until you feel motivated enough to share the gospel with everyone. (And as a fair warning, I am livid right now, so this will not sound like a happy feeling).

Missionary work is one of the pillar purposes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Missionary work is the life-blood of the church. Unfortunately, it is one of the most neglected principles/doctrines in practice in the lives of every-day members. Full time missionaries, for the most part, have this purpose found in their lives, daily. It was recently announced that we have 82,000 missionaries serving full time. To gather scattered Israel back in, we need more than that: we need 15,000,000 missionaries. "Every member...a missionary," said President David O McKay. Stop and think for a second, what it would be like if every member was a missionary.

What would it be like if every sacrament meeting had visitors? What would it be like if members made it a priority to share their heart-felt testimonies with their friends? What would it be like if members did so much work that missionaries literally had to be on splits and run from appointment to appointment from 10 AM to 9 PM? What would it be like if every member's heart were aflame with a bright testimony of The Book of Mormon, and the desire to share that light with everyone around them? What would it be like if members weren't so cliquey, but reached out and shared? What would it be like if Facebook were flooded with videos from mormon.org and with testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith? What if there was a tidal wave of tweets declaring the truths of the Restoration?

The results would be wonderful! Of that, I say with no hesitation by the power of the Spirit! I know that our meetings would be more filled with the Spirit of Almighty God! Mighty miracles would be wrought among the children of men, the likes of which had never been seen before. Testimonies would be strengthened, and conversions deepened. The mysteries of godliness would be unfolded right before our eyes.

Daniel prophesied that in the latter days "the God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44). Nothing can stop the progress of the work. However, the members of the church do not engage in missionary work. Whether that's out of laziness or fear, it doesn't matter. Members of the church lack faith in our God of miracles. They lack faith in the converting power of the Spirit. They lack faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

"Gee, Jared. That sounds a little harsh. Just because I don't do missionary work, doesn't mean I don't have faith in the Atonement."

The wicked take the truth to be hard. (I make no apology for the characterization of those who do not perform missionary work as wicked. Wicked is defined in the dictionary as "evil or morally bad in principle or practice; sinful" (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wicked?s=t). It is a sin to not engage in missionary work). The prophet, Howard W Hunter said, “What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work? Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others. … A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others.” Those who lack the desire to share the gospel with others have obviously not felt the blessings of the Atonement. The only way to not feel the blessings of the Atonement is to lack the faith to use it.

Joseph Smith once called missionary work "the great work of the last days” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 178–79). With the access to temples and historical records so far reaching in the latter days, it is still the missionary work that is called "the great work". Now, I'm not discounting the need to worship in the temples and to search out our kindred dead; however, I am saying that temple work takes a back seat to missionary work. Temple Work can be done during the millennium. Missionary work must be done now.

One of the scriptural uses for the word "damned" is the meaning of progress being stopped. Those who don't engage in missionary work, with this sense of the word, are damning the church. The work will continue to go forth, because God is working right by our sides. The progress of the work, however, is hindered and slowed down by lack of missionary involvement. President Gordon B Hinckley taught, "Last year there were approximately 300,000 convert baptisms throughout the Church. This is tremendously significant. This is the equivalent of 120 new stakes of 2,500 members each. Think of that: 120 new stakes in a single year! It is wonderful. But it is not enough. I am not being unrealistic when I say that with concerted effort, with recognition of the duty which falls upon each of us as members of the Church, and with sincere prayer to the Lord for help, we could double that number" (http://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/05/find-the-lambs-feed-the-sheep). He said that in 1999. From the statistical report this past April (http://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/05/statistical-report-2012?lang=eng):
Converts Baptized during 2012
272,330
We have work to do. A prophet of God told us we could have 600,000 convert baptisms a year IF EACH OF US AS MEMBERS RECOGNIZE OUR DUTY AND WITH SINCERE PRAYER. And quite honestly, the Spirit seems to accord that he was speaking about the low end. There is absolutely no limits on this work of Salvation...And God is hastening it. Make no mistake about it! God has set His hand to gather in scattered Israel, the ten tribes included, once more with more power and more force than ever before. The only question is: will we catch this wave of missionary work, or will we be drowned by it?

We must be doing missionary work! As with all else, the Savior is our example. He went about teaching truths, and inviting men to do hard things to learn the gospel. He asked Peter to drop his nets and follow Him. He taught profound truths to large groups of people, but it was always meant for the one. Everything He did was missionary work. None of us will be as successful as He was at it, but He is still our Exemplar. Thomas S Monson called him "the missionary who redeemed mankind". May we ever follow in the footsteps of The Master, and speak so that all around us might hear the voice of He, who is the good shepherd. For "My sheep hear my voice...and they follow me" (John 10:27). 

Jesus Christ truly is the Good Shepherd, and has asked us to be His under-shepherds. It is my hope that we will each have the courage to open our mouths, and have them be filled with the glorious truths of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. "Lift up your voices and testify to the true nature of the Godhead. Declare your witness concerning the Book of Mormon. Convey the glorious and beautiful truths contained in the plan of salvation" (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/come-all-ye-sons-of-god). 

I testify that as we willingly engage in fulfilling the divine commission we received at baptism, and recommit to in the Temple, that the world will change from the missionary work going on today. I testify that God is calling each of us to do His work. I testify that The Book of Mormon is true, and invite all to read it now, regardless of how many times you have previously read the book, and ask God again if it is true. I testify of the power of the Holy Ghost, and that God's words have not ceased. May we each engage in the divine commission to build up the Kingdom of God, with love of God and of all men, is my humble prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.