I remember in high school, a popular rhetoric regarding religion (spoken with the utmost pretension) was “I believe in a higher power, but I have no need for organized religion.” For a fifteen year-old me, this seemed very intellectual, very highbrow. We were sophisticated thinkers, us sophomores!
Unfortunately, many have matured into adulthood but have maintained their position that “church,” while wholesome and generally good (or at least, not harmful), isn’t necessary to live a good life.
Elder Oaks presents evidence that church, defined by organized groups of people united in purpose to worship and serve, is essential for living a good life. By associating with like-minded believers, we strengthen and enhance our own testimonies. We find unique, heaven-sent opportunities for charity, and learn to rise above our natural tendencies and our favorite sins. We are given positions of service and leadership which teach us to grow in our skills and abilities, and stretch us to work alongside and love people we might not otherwise associate with.
While many feel they can live a Christian life and raise their families in faith without regular church attendance, one major component of Christ’s teachings will be missing. “Jesus Christ organized a church and contemplated that a church would carry on His work after Him,” Elder Oaks says. If we are to model Christ’s behavior, Church is indeed essential.
One common term used in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to be “active” in the church, which (colloquially) means you attend regularly. Alternatively, a person might be considered “inactive” if they do not attend regularly. But another antonym for “active” is “passive,” which is not the same as “inactive.” You may be active in your attendance, but passive in your actions or beliefs. Or you may be inactive in your attendance, but active in your actions in your beliefs. Let us avoid both inactivity and passivity.
God’s inspiration and blessings are attracted to our activity, action, motion. By worshipping Him as a congregation each Sunday, we are fulfilling one of His commandments and practicing “activity.”
Read the full talk by President Dallin H. Oaks HERE.
I am an important and desired part of God's family, and He loves my presence at Church. I am active in my pursuit of closeness to Him.
This coming Sunday, make a special effort to be "active" on Sunday.
Sit with someone who came alone, and share kind words with someone you've never met. Sing the hymns loudly. Really ponder the Atonement during Sacrament. Magnify your calling and exercise compassion and grace with others. Take note of how this type of church "activity" feels different from passive church attendance.