Remember the story of the rich young man who came to Jesus claiming to have kept all the commands? In response Jesus said, “Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22) We then read that the young man left Jesus sorrowing because he had many possessions.
When I read that story, and then examine my life, I don’t come off very well. Compared to the rest of the world, the average American like me fits into that category of rich. Compared to the majority of the world’s population, I have great possessions. I have grown accustomed to them also. Therefore it is difficult for me to sincerely say that I would be willing to sell everything and give it to the poor. But Jesus didn’t just ask the young man if he would be willing to do that, he told them to do that. It is difficult for me to even contemplate doing that, much less actually doing it. Once again this verse reveals how deeply ingrained my sinful nature is – how far I am from perfection. And how impossible it will be for me to ever achieve perfection.
That is why I treasure the many Bible passages that tell me that I don’t have to achieve perfection – that Jesus was perfect for me. “By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14) What a relief to realize that perfection is not a goal to be obtained, but a gift that has been bestowed.
That, however, is not what Mormonism teaches. Here is its comment on this Bible story under the title, “Going On to Perfection”. “The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), but that power can be fully released only for the perfection of the individual as he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in the service of the Master. Elder Bruce R. McConkie concludes:
“It is our privilege to consecrate our time, talents, and means to build up his kingdom. We are called upon to sacrifice, in one degree or another, for the furtherance of his work. Obedience is essential to salvation; so also is service; and so also, are consecration and sacrifice.” (Life and Teachings, p.133)
Notice how that only talks about the willingness to sacrifice. But Jesus talked about actually giving up everything. Therefore it seems to me that should be something every Mormon should be doing as part of “after all we can do”.