When I was going through medical school, two of my best friends – Glenn and Steve – were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). We all lived a stone’s throw away from each other in the university family housing complex. For those four years, we did everything together - studied, shared meals, played sports, laughed, and prayed. Our wives likewise formed an inseparable trio as all our kids played together.
Glenn and Steve wore their faith on their sleeve, but they never tried to “convert” me. We occasionally chatted about the differences in our faith, but always with the utmost love and respect for each other. As I got to know them, and even attended their church occasionally, I was thoroughly impressed by many aspects of how they (and Mormons in general) live out their faith.
Modesty. Mormons have been catching flack for their “special underwear” for years. It essentially consists of a white T-shirt and shorts under their regular clothes. These “temple garments”, as they’re called, represent many things to Mormons, but to me it emphasized their commitment to modesty. They don’t wear clothes that are too low-cut, too tight, or too revealing. In a world where indecency, sexual promiscuity, and shamelessness are rampant, Mormons quietly live a life of modesty. Respect.
Everybody has a role. Each member has an appointed role to serve their local congregation. There are no free rides; no lazy faith. Everyone contributes to the spiritual, physical, and mental health of the body by serving in a way that reflects their individual talents. Even Glenn, in the midst of a busy medical school curriculum, was tasked with organizing sporting events throughout the year.
Nobody gets paid. This blew me away. The whole church institution is maintained strictly by volunteers! There are no ministers or pastors on salary. Everyone is expected to work outside of the church to support their own family and their individual ministries. Didn’t the apostle Paul live the same way? I’m not saying this is how every church should be (there’s certainly a biblical basis to argue against this), but perhaps the Mormons are on to something.
Everyone serves on the mission field. Sometime after graduating high school, Mormons travel somewhere in the world on a mission trip. Regardless of the impact the missionaries make on their respective mission fields, serving in such a role certainly has a positive impact on the missionaries themselves. What a great way to establish a global perspective and servant-minded ministry in young adults.
Sermons are regularly given by lay members of the congregation. That is, regular guys preach. This is a double-edged sword, since some people are just lousy speakers and teachers. But on the flip side, the congregation experiences a wide variety of teaching, testimonies, and perspectives. Also, it kicks people in the butt to study the Bible and teach their community. There’s no better way to learn than to teach.
They’re all about family. It seems like everything in our culture is trying to tear families apart. However, Mormons work tirelessly to promote healthy marriages, godly kids, and strong relationships within the home. They even ran a series of commercials on TV to promote the value of quality family time. What a great message.
No alcohol, no caffeine, no smoking. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with any of those things, per se. However, there are many reasons not to drink – prior alcohol abuse, religious beliefs, job requirements, etc. – and all of them are good reasons. Simply put, there’s no bad reason not to drink. The same goes for consuming caffeine (the most widely used drug in the world) and smoking (obvious negative health effects). Mormons steer clear of anything that can cause addiction. Brilliant.
Say what you will about Joseph Smith and the golden tablets, because where the rubber meets the road, Mormons are living out their faith in living color. I was repeatedly blessed and encouraged to live alongside Glenn and Steve and their families, and my wife and I were so thankful to attend LDS church functions with them. I’ll never forget the Valentines Day Dance they held in the gymnasium for married couples – super fun. I’ve never met a Mormon who wasn’t friendly and hospitable. And when we prayed together, it felt like I was approaching the Father alongside my brothers and sisters.
I don’t know exactly where Mormons stand on faith in Jesus, but many of them display the fruit of the Spirit in spades. I think mainstream evangelical churches could learn a lot from them.