1 Corinthians 6:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
Finally, in that time of serenity with only the sound of the lapping ocean on distance rocks and the steady rumble of waves breaking on the sandy shore, we spoke truly about God.
I walked on the empty beach in Lincoln City, Oregon, hand-in-hand with my then high school sweetheart. She was very pretty, blunt (if not a little shy on wits) and Mormon. There is something odd about how proximity to the vastness of the sea can bring about some of our most contemplative moments. Finally, in that time of serenity with only the sound of the lapping ocean on distance rocks and the steady rumble of waves breaking on the sandy shore, we spoke truly about God. I remember saying, in the sort of bluntness that she was so fond of, “you know, you’re Mormon and I’m not.”
Now, what some would take as a minor difference in religious opinion, I was feeling intensely conflicted about. It was long past time for this conversation to happen. I remember her response as clearly as anything, “Yes, but we really believe in the same God.”
Yes. Of course we do. We believe in the same God. And Mormons believe in Jesus, so all is done and good. I should have been unfettered from all specters of guilt. There really was no significant difference in belief. And I could have taken her response and swallowed it like any other man who swallows poison in a vainglorious attempt to feign strength. But I could not. I remember talking to her about the truly insurmountable differences between our faiths. God the Father was never a sinful human, nor did he ever win his Godhood through good behavior some finite time ago. My God is Trinity, and unfathomably perfect beyond imagination. Jesus was not the brother of Satan and is truly one with the Father. How could I justly worship what I too could one day become? I, for one, could not. I found myself, even in that very moment, realizing with potent clarity that my God was simply too big for Mormonism.
I found myself, even in that very moment, realizing with potent clarity that my God was simply too big for Mormonism.
And what was meant to be our little break from the world at an empty beach, ended up being our break from one another. I recognize now that it may have been the very vastness of the ocean before me that gave me the words to articulate the vast differences between two Gods that could never be the same.
That is what doctrine does for the Church. It gives the body bones and says I can yield only this much lest I break. When a church stands for nothing, it will fall for anything. I could have believed, that long time ago, that my God was the same as hers. But what would I have gained—unity at the cost of meaning, integrity and, worst of all, truth. Many churches now have murdered dogma and doctrine in hopes of endearing themselves to the world. In this recklessness they have sought to stand for anything and everything and therefore nothing in particular. These churches we may refer to as the invertebrate church.
It is foundationally important that men and women of faith be willing to stand firm in what they believe—not because it is easy but because it is worth it. Christian Influence is about providing opportunities for men and women, many of them young, to exercise this firmness of faith. The world, especially within gaming communities, is rife with vulgarity and unkindness—it is full of hopeless, desperate and dying people. In other words, it is a place most in need of Jesus. It is my hope that Christian Influence, and the people who buy into its vision, can help fill in some small part this great need, not because of what it sacrifices for the sake of unity, but because of what it is willing to stand for in the name of Jesus.