What does it mean to be a “Real Christian”
How Christians view daily life with God compared to Mormons
by Mark Grote
In all of our debate about this doctrine or that doctrine, I sometimes feel is if we are approaching this process a little too cerebrally. I want us to take a step back for a minute and forget about what makes “sense” to us as if God is only in your logical understanding of Him. This is impossible. One thing Mormonism teaches is a high-mindedness that suggests that they have God all figured out. That is impossible.
The temporal cannot explain or understand the infinite. I’ll repeat that for emphasis. The temporal cannot explain or understand the infinite! Period! It can’t be done. Mormons have this nice neat ‘God-in-a-box” mindset that sounds good in fast food type bite-sizes, but the more you eat, the more you realize it’s a bunch of empty spiritual calories that do not feed your spirit. There seems to be no place in the Mormon church for the “signs and wonders” that I keep reading about in the bible. The LDS kind of faith is about a static god that is not living, but rather full of rules and heavy handedness.
God’s power flowed through many average people in the Bible such as Job, Paul, Peter, Gideon, Daniel, David, Moses and many others. These were not great people before God worked through them. They were works in progress. You don’t need a Gordon Hinckley or Joseph Smith, you need God and only God.
One thing you have got to get a handle on that no Mormon can teach you is that God is about relationship. What does that mean? It means that you and I are on a journey, a process as it were, a road to perfection, perfected by my RELATIONSHIP with Jesus, not by my works. In that RELATIONSHIP, I talk to him, pray to him, do what He asks me to do and when I fail, I go back and can say, “Jesus, I’m so sorry…I messed up.”
Thus, out of my relationship, I want to be more like him…as opposed to blind obedience to a set of rules—half of which I don’t even understand. The 17 points of “true church” will not save you. God’s not judging you by those points and that by believing in them, following them, THEY might earn my way to heaven with Him. Jesus requires no such thing of me. What he wants is the submission of my heart….my love, my devotion, my mind, my strength. He is perfected in my weakness. He wants to so captivate me and permeate the areas of my life that out of this relationship springs a heart for people—His heart. Not that I, ME, MYSELF, may gain more in heaven, but that THEY will. Do you notice how the emphasis is on others? Mormon works
by contrast says that by ME doing good for others,I might get something out of it. Mormonism has it backwards. My faith is not about me, it’s about others.
Think of someone in your life who you really loved. It could be a child, a girlfriend, wife, mother…someone whom you really adored. Have that person in mind. Now, think if they came to you and said, “Would you do me a favor?” Would you? Of course you would. The love a parent has for child is one of those types of relationships. I don’t know if you have kids but what happens to a person when they have kids is that they learn what it’s like to have a sacrificial kind love for someone else that puts the child’s welfare in front of everything else…even themselves. It’s where I say, the heck with me, what’s best for my child? It’s total devotion….powerfully fueled emotional love for their little beings, spirits and souls. It’s the kind of love that invests time into whom they are today and who they will become tomorrow. It is self-sacrificing and it is beautiful. To see the look in a mother’s eyes as she takes joy in her child is one of the most beautiful human experiences I have ever had the joy of witnessing.
This is the kind of love I’m talking about. This is the kind of devotional love God has for us and what we should have for each other IN CHRIST. God is called Father. What kind of a Father would he be if He didn’t have the attributes that we have for our children? How much greater is His love for us than our love for our own children? That’s what it means to be a Christian. It’s not religion born out of something institutional or functional where we make you more like us, it relational…one on one, becoming the dynamic person that God made you. God doesn’t want to reduce you down to some kind of lemming who follows the rules and does things in the same kind of cookie cutter fashion as the next Mormon. It is waaaaaay more than that. It’s dynamic as God is dynamic. He has something different for each one of us.
Mormonism suffocates your individuality. You become one Borg-like group. You will eat what they say, live where they say, give what they say and do what they say–and if you don’t, well we’ll just take your temple rights away and see where that leaves you in the afterlife?
He has a mission, a journey, a testimony totally unique and different for you than he has for me. Because, while I may be the hands, you are His feet. That is the real body of Christ. And what you have experienced with him, and what your life’s ups and downs have been, mine are totally different. And those experiences are experiences that God wants to use for HIS Glory—not yours. Remember, He is perfected in your weakness. Not your strength. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9. Do you get the significance of that? He wants to take all those hurts and successes that you have experienced and use them like no one else can. Who is better to lay hands on and minister to a woman who has just aborted her baby? A male pastor, a Mormon bishop, a patriarchal women in the church or a single mom who aborted her baby years ago who God healed and now wants to use to care, minister, touch and counsel other women who have, or are thinking of doing the same thing? That’s the God I know. He’s VERY unconventional. And this one-size-fits-all approach to God is not working. It doesn’t work that way in the Mormon Church nor does it work in the Christian church. It is not institutional…it’s not something easily grasped, it’s lovely, beautiful, something that is part of you…that sees the guy next to you as someone who is going to need a touch from God because, even though he doesn’t know it, his wife is about to leave him. That’s the point of where the real work of God begins. When he breaks me down, humbles me, where I have nothing left except God and if I can just touch his garment, perhaps He will make me whole. He’s the God that fills the hole in your heart. It’s not any church, pastor, bishop or friend. Only God can fill that void…and use it for His glory.
By contrast, Mormonism suffocates your individuality. You become one Borg-like group. You will eat what they say, live where they say, give what they say and do what they say–and if you don’t, well we’ll just take your temple rights away and see where that leaves you in the afterlife? Your kids will be raised to be what Mormons say they should be, (missionaries) period. Even though, God could have something else in mind. Right? Surely he doesn’t have the same exact plan for everyone. He didn’t in the bible, why would he now? Isn’t it just possible that God might NOT want some kid to be a missionary? Well, if you’re a good Mormon, I assure you, they will become missionaries. The missionary experience is pushed hard by the church. Girls only go to college to catch a man, then quit when they do, to clean house, bottle peaches, and have babies endlessly. Why? Why do all Mormons act the same? Well, despite the obvious cult-live behaviors, it’s because they are under the law. They do what they are told according to the church laws…not because of relationship with God in trying to please him, but rather trying to please the church. That’s Mormonism in a snapshot. The contrasts could not be greater.
This is the thing that I’m trying to get across to you. Look at God as a friend and His power will begin to flow through you. As much as you seem to ‘think” it flows through someone else that you are thinking of following, (say Gordon Hinckley), it can flow through you too. God’s power flowed through many average people in the Bible such as Job, Paul, Peter, Gideon, Daniel, David, Moses and many others. These were not great people before God worked through them. They were works in progress. You don’t need a Gordon Hinckley or Joseph Smith, you need God and only God. And God wants you to come to Him yourself. He doesn’t want millions of relationships managed by one guy. God wants millions of relationships and He is quite big enough to manage them Himself. He doesn’t need Hinckley or Smith.
The passages in the bible about ‘Desire earnestly to prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:39) is one such example that He wants more for us. It is not there for decoration. Scriptures like this should tell us something. It should make us question what God wants for us. It is an example of how much more there is for you and me once we move into a deeper personal relationship with God. As we do, the spirit can move through us, if we are willing to let Him, so that the outpouring of our relationship becomes a mountain-moving kind of faith that brings many gifts from above which are made manifest in usin many ways. It is not reserved for just some people. You, me, everyone can prophesy. Do you know how I know that? Because God told us ALL to desire earnestly to do it. That mean you too can prophesy. I guess that could make you a prophet. For the record, I prophesy, I speak in tongues, I teach, I love, I try to lead others to the love of God and bless people. These are the fruits of my spirit. And they are as real as this anything in this world that I can touch and feel. These things are not reserved for just some leaders…they are for everyone. There is no one person who has the authority, power, etc, to exclusively move in these ways. We all can. The bible calls JESUS the chief cornerstone, upon His Church is built (Eph. 2:19). We need to think of God as someone who wants to fellowship with us, through His son, Jesus, and those gifts He gives from that relationship, bring you into even deeper depths of His love (James 4:8). Who wouldn’t want that?
Believe it or not, it’s not god, but GOD. He is not like the stupid song, ‘watching us from a distance,” He lives in my heart—He’s with me all the time. He’s real, tangible, spirit, everywhere all the time, all powerful, all knowing, my Lord, my savior, my God, my protector, my daddy (Abba Father) and yours too. Would you want anything less from your God? Because, if so, that’s what Mormons offer. A god who has limits and not much personality either. Well, that’s not the God I want to worship. I want a God who is not limited and can do anything. The God I know has no limits. My God lives outside of time and space. Just think about that for a minute when you can. And He is a BIG and DYNAMIC GOD who loves you. This God of the universe actually wants to stop things where they are long enough to have a minute with YOU. Now THAT’S a cool God. This
God wants to live in your heart. That’s where it all begins. I’m sure you have heard it said that love is not a feeling. Right? If I love someone, even when I don’t feel like it, but I stay with them, I forgive them, I care for them when they are not well and I help them—that’s my choice to love them, not my feeling of love for them. And if I am really devoted to them, they cannot offend me enough where I will ever give up on them. I might have to distance myself, but I will always take them back with humility. That’s agape love. That’s Christ-like love. That’s a God love.
A Christ kind of love stares down at you from up on the cross, while we (figuratively speaking) spit on him, hurling insults at him, throwing rocks at him…despising him and stabbing him with a spear in His side, after he sacrificed himself for us up on the cross, we hated Him for it. It’s the kind of love, that despite that kind of treatment that says, ‘Oh father…forgive them. For they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Did you get that….after ALL that…he could’ve crushed them but didn’t. He forgave them and quoted scripture until He died. If this religious experience were about me and only about MY getting to heaven, Jesus wouldn’t have acted as he did on the Cross. This is why the Cross means so much to Christians. It is a symbol of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us and where he paid the ultimate price. And where is the cross in the Mormon Church?
The Mormon Church cannot understand these things because they lack relationship with God because the god they serve is not real. They have exchanged this dynamic God who created (with great creativity I might add) the world in all of its majestic wonders of life, for a set of rules, which you may be entertaining too. They want you to follow their “formula”. Do you really think God gives a rip about formulas? No, he does not. What I see in the Mormon Church is a “get right within yourself” doctrine and then God will consider taking you back.” And then when you have repented enough, he might let you into heaven but only if you work for it. And if you want to be a god yourself, get busier and open your checkbook and work endlessly for it. How much should you work? No one knows. You see, when you’re working for yourself, you only see what you get out of it. You only see your own goals. It’s not about others, it for your own glory…not God’s that Mormons do the works they do—so that they get to heaven and that they (here’s the ultimate insult to God himself), that they become gods themselves too. Well my friend, that’s all going to burn.
How much you have to work for your salvation no one knows in the LDS. How many works must a Mormon do to get to heaven? No Mormon can tell you. That’s why they have no assurance of getting to heaven. Deep down, no Mormon knows for sure. Oh, they tell you sometimes, with what appears to be great sincerity, that they are the “true church” and how wonderful and connected they are but that’s so earthly. It’s always about the wonderful church, people, etc. but never about God. It’s about how warm and wonderful they (the Church) are by taking me in. They profess that these “fruits of the spirit.” But God is so much deeper than community. That actually proves nothing. I can get that much community at the local Moose Lodge. When I ask enough questions and challenge enough of the Mormon doctrines, Missionaries and fellow Mormons alike that I talk to, the community ends. Now what was I just telling you about true sacrificial love? Why do Mormon parents disown children who fall away from the faith? Why do Mormons reject me when I ask questions and don’t fall for everything they say? Why do the fall back into their trances of “I believe that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and that the BoM is the Word of God and that Mormon Church is the true Church.” Yeah…keep telling yourself that until the next person comes along and shakes your paradigms. What I think is that if the LDS church is the TRUE CHURCH, it should be un-offendable, long-suffering, willing to talk with me more than 10 minutes about my questions because it has the truth.
But upon closer examination it only reveals that it’s more of the same cookie cutter responses that they are only trained to answer and anything that they have been trained for, they cannot answer. It’s more defensiveness out of the Church that claims that they have the divine authority and the true meanings to life. If they do, why don’t they act like it? Why do I have so many emails and so many missionary conversations to draw from, blasting us because they are threatened by our point of view? Could it be that it’s hitting close to home? I thought this was the ‘true CHURCH“? If they are, why don’t weep for me (presuming it is I who is lost) like Jesus wept? Instead they do what the Jews did to Jesus. They hurl insults at use daily because I don’t believe what they believe. Because I actually believe that God is more than the lie that Mormonism claims that it is. And when I back it up with scripture, Mormons are nowhere to be seen. Could it be because they’ve missed the Gospel message entirely? You see, Mormons have confused the eternal security of ‘salvation” with “assurance”. What the bible says is that I can KNOW that I am saved. John says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
All of this is what ‘relationship” with God is all about. It’s about a guy acting out a drama on the street in a straight jacket, so fat that he can’t move, tugging and pulling at it as if he could ever get out of it, all the while he shares how much bondage he has in his life before he REALLY met Jesus. THIS is the gospel God wants him sharing with passer-bys. It is totally unconventional. And you know what, it’s guys like that who are bringing more people to Christ than any church. Their type go out to the hospice and just put a washcloth on the forehead of an AIDS patient to bring him some form of comfort as he dies. THEN, perhaps after doing that for a few weeks, months or years, they MAY have earned the right to speak into those lives after having demonstrating the love of Christ with them. THAT’S what it means to be a Christian…and Mormons are not Christians. Mormons build temples. Christians build relationships. Which do you think Glorifies God more?
In the end, we have to move this search for God 12 inches down–from our heads to our hearts. We need to go someplace, take a walk, go on a trail, go camping ALONE….only with only a bible and spend some time with God. SEARCH HIM…and He will reveal himself to you. I’m talking deep, deep down, that you know in your knower He IS God. Ask him into your heart and then hang on for what will be the most life-changing experience you have every felt. It’s not supposed to be like the first day on new job, it is LIFE CHANGING event!
James says, ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8.
My prayers are with you on this journey of finding the God of the Universe, His Son, whom we are called to worship and by the expression of that Worship of Him, not the worship of some ‘prophet,” we bring Glory to God, and His Holy Spirit by whom you will have the power to cast out demons, heal the sick, save the lost and find the riches of his splendor.