Five seconds are left in the basketball game. It’s not any game either – it’s the championship. Your team is down by one point. Your coach calls time out, looks down the bench to where you are sitting and motions you to check into the game. As you pass him, he pulls you aside and tells you to take the last shot. “We are counting on you. It’s all up to you.”
Talk about pressure. Especially if you have sat on the bench the entire game to that point. Few people would enjoy being in that situation. Few people would succeed in that situation.
But that is the position a lot of Mormons feel that they are in. I know that because many of them have shared that with me. I realize that it is inaccurate to say that Mormonism teaches that people are saved by their works alone. No, it talks about God’s grace. But it doesn’t teach that people are saved by grace alone. “However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient.” (LDS Bible Dictionary)
Pause for a moment and think of the tremendous pressure that exerts on many Mormons. Imagine trying to live under that. Even if we think that we have to contribute only 1% to our salvation – that opens the door to a whole lot of worry. It’s like the sub coming off the bench being told that he has to make only one basket, the winning basket. But with one big difference. The pressure Mormonism places on many of its adherents doesn’t last just for a few moments – it’s there for an entire lifetime.
How much better is the biblical message of Titus 3:4-7: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” There’s no work – and no pressure.
God saved us, not by our works, but according to his mercy. He saved us by sending Jesus to do everything for us. That is why Christmas is such a joyous time. May you experience joy and relief this Christmas knowing that Jesus came and took all the pressure off.