In my last post, the second in this series on our nearly exclusive focus on helping everyone become “active” members of the Church, I explained why I think that simply meeting the basic requirements to be considered an active member and staying that way until death is not sufficient for exaltation. (It was a pretty good post, actually. If it weren’t so long maybe more people would have read it.) The idea was that over reliance on Grace is dangerous because it can lead those with the proverbial “five talents” to become satisfied with their five talents and not double them. Expanding on that analogy, let’s say that becoming an active member of the church and staying that way is the equivalent of two talents. For those born into this world with one talent, turning that into two talents would indeed warrant those desired words from God “well done thou good and faithful servant”. But what of those that arrive here with 2-5 talents? What must they do to receive that commendation from the Lord? If just meeting the minimum requirements to be called an active Mormon is not enough, what then? Is the church providing the needed assistance to these folks to double their talents in this life?
Independence to Interdependence
I am a fan of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits. If you are not familiar with them, the first three habits are called the independence habits and the second three are called the interdependence habits (the seventh is a rejuvenation habit). To apply that model to this discussion, I would say that getting oneself permanently active in the church matches up with the independence habits. They are the habits where you take care of your own business in life. You take responsibility for yourself. But after you have gotten yourself squared away, the next portion is working with others to create something better together than you could ever have created apart.
We without them cannot be perfected…
So it seems likely to me that the way the church helps those who come into this world with 2-5 talents is by taking them from being purely sheep, and putting them into the additional role of shepherd. That means that the way they double their talents is by focusing their time, talents and energies on helping those with one talent turn that into two. In other words, they spend all of their time in the Christ-like shepherding tasks of help non-members become members of the Lord’s church and by helping lost sheep (inactive members) return to the fold (full activity). I believe the same principle that applies to our dead applies to those who are not active members of the church as well:
And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers-that they without us cannot be made perfect-neither can we without our dead be made perfect.
(D&C 128:15, emphasis mine)
Of course it makes sense. If we are to become like our exemplar, our Savior, we must becomes saviors ourselves.
This model illuminates some interesting implications. One is that God never intended everyone to be an active member of His true church in this probation. The true church is apparently not for everyone. This is a factoid that speaks strongly in favor of continued progression after this life, I think. It illustrates the differing levels of progression before this life as well.
The final question I have for you is, what will the people do to progress when the Lord reigns personally on the earth and there are no more inactive members or non-members left? Is it daily genealogy and temple work only? (Yikes – sounds sort of tedious…)