Filthy Rags

A few months after I got baptized into the LDS church, I had a good Protestant friend of mine invite me to go on this backpacking trip with him and his parents. I thought nothing of it, I hung out at their house many times over the years. My friend and his parents were always doing outdoor adventures. We start off at a meadow early, then climb up this mountain, then scramble along this ridge until we come to the trail to this lake. By the time we get there, it is late in the evening, and we set up camp.

Things are going well, that is until by friend’s mom looks at me and says “Jim, I want to talk to you about your salvation”. She drags this Bible out of her backpack and proceeds to tell me how my new faith is wrong. By planned circumstance, I guess you could say she had a captive audience. At the time, being brand new in the church, I had very little knowledge about the Bible or how to refute what they were telling me.

She tells me that in my faith, I am trying to work out my own salvation, rather than having faith and relying on Christ. Being a brand new Mormon, I had no way to explain or refute the scriptures she was showing me. All I knew is I was attempting to follow Christ’s example, and yet was falling short.

The Dilemma

What she was saying bothered me, we are supposed to be saved by grace through faith in Christ, and nothing we do will help. Why then, are we taught to go to church, to be honest, to….. do all these works? Nevertheless, I charged ahead in my new religion.

The common mistaken analogy is that we do what we can to work out our salvation, and then Christ makes up the rest. Makes sense, that is until you read Romans Chapter 3 and understand that we ALL come short of the glory of God. No matter what we do, we cannot do anything to earn our way into heaven. Are we then stuck? Hardly, Christ is there to lift us out. Why then, should we even try? We will continue to fall short, no matter how hard we try.

Piano Lessons

We used to have our younger daughter taking piano lessons. We paid this neighbor of ours to give these weekly lessons. During the week, my daughter was supposed to practice. She got pretty good at recognizing the notes, but made mistakes often, and she was in no way prepared to do a recital in Carnegie Hall. But, she practiced (sometimes). Her practice in no way paid the piano teacher the money for her time, neither did it pay us the money back. But what practicing did is show appreciation for this gift. Also, it helped to prepare her for playing the piano in the future. Maybe in the future she will take it back up.

Similarly, we are given the gift of salvation from Christ. He has made the payment for us. Whether we decide to show appreciation by “practicing” heaven, that is up to us. And, as we do so, we prepare ourselves for the kingdom.

Would Heaven Be Heaven to Some?

I have a friend from the days before I went to church. He smokes dope, has been in and out of jail, and is very rough around the edges. A couple years back, we invited him over. While there, I could tell he felt uncomfortable. At home, we have various religious pictures hung up. My kids are rowdy, but very clean in their speech and mannerisms. He felt out of place, and soon left. I remember feeling that way when I was a kid before I was in church, visiting some people who were very religious. I did not feel comfortable there, like I was some stain on the mattress.

Early on after I was baptized, I imagined getting to the pearly gates like being in some interview, nervously biting my fingernails to see if I can get in or not while Jesus is pouring over my book of life. However, the older I get, I see it more as an unrepentant sinner standing at the pearly gates saying, “Get me out of here! I do not feel comfortable here, please put me somewhere where I can be at peace with myself.” All the while, Christ will be beckoning us into his kingdom.

John 14:2 states, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” I believe God will put us in a place where we will be most comfortable with ourselves. If we feel worthy to be in the presence of God, it will be so. If not, it will be so. Just as my 9 year old daughter would feel uncomfortable performing at Carnegie Hall, we would feel uncomfortable in God’s presence. In a sense, we will be able to determine what mansion in the Kingdom of Heaven we will go, even if we do not pay the price of admission.

Where does that leave us?

In this life, nobody is worthy to be in God’s presence. However, through the gift the Christ has given, we can be washed of our uncleanliness in order to become worthy. In return, Christ asks us to “Come Follow Me”. Not because we are to earn our own salvation. We are not going to pay God the Father back for our misdeeds, nor are we going to pay Christ back for paying for our sins. However, like my daughter shows appreciation to us by practicing her little heart out, we show appreciation to our Savior by living a clean life. And in doing so, helps prepare us to feel worthy to be in the presence of God so that Heaven will in fact, be Heaven.

Author: Jim Johnson

As a man in his early 40's, I grew up on a dairy farm in an irreligious home. Disgusted with the choice of women out there, I looked into religion to find a worthwhile mate. At 23, I joined the LDS (Mormon) faith, married, became a civil engineer, and now have six children. My favorite things are puppies, long walks on the beach, and the color blue (not really).

59 thoughts on “Filthy Rags”

  1. Another excellent article Jim. Even though I don’t currently consider myself to be a religious person, I enjoy the way you explain your faith.

    1. Thanks, still I think those principles can apply. I do not beat myself up after working out because I don’t measure up to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am focused on doing better than yesterday

    2. I wonder how far you could rise in the hierarchy of the christian church with that avatar? Cardinal maybe?

      1. The avatar is the least of my worries. I’m much more offensive in person.

        But, the church is on hard times presently, so I’d prefer not to kick an easy target while they’re down. I really enjoy Jim’s articles. It’s more relate-able than the people that condescend to you about their religion.

                    1. cmon man, he is smarter than that…probably too smart. nothing lasts forever, he just misses the old crew on that other site…its over

                    2. shouldnt paid trolls be disruptive across dozens, hundreds, of websites? why would they all congregate here? poor ROI in my opinion

                    3. What would I know? I just drop round for the lulz!

                      All right then, but we can’t presume the premise is correct. Were it so, it might or might not present a poor ROI. It seems to me a different kind of leadership for a start, although some of the leaders seems to have moved onto greener pastures, newer projects or whatever. I imagine there were Gant charts involved that have now been archived.

        1. I didn’t know there was a cardinal bird. I suppose once pope francis admits women there will be lots of em

  2. How we will feel when we meet our maker is indeed an interesting thought. It’s said that your life’s work and sin will be laid bare. Discomfort would be natural but relief in salvation would overpower it, I feel.

  3. Your best yet, Jim. Well done.
    Early in my own faith I’d vacillated between the “I don’t have to do anything, Christ paid the tab” camp as well as the “I’ll never match Christ’s example so fuk it I’m doomed” camp. I’ve since reconciled the unattainable goal of being Christ-like by comparing it to mortal life itself – you know from a young age that you will, one day die, but at no point does any sane person stop fighting to stay alive anyway. Similarly, like you say, one can never become fully worthy of God in this life, and yet we’re challenged to pursue it anyway, knowing full well the best we’ll even attain on earth will still be merely a metaphor of the Kingdom. That struggle IS the faith.

    1. Maybe you need one of those WWJSOD wristbands to help you along, as in What would Jesus say on Disqus?

  4. Really nice article Jim!

    Matthew 5:48 is one of my favorite parts of the book. When Christ commands people to be perfect (as my Heavenly Father is perfect) it seems insane.

    Then you think on it. Yes, you are commanded by an all forgiving god to be absolutely perfect. This is the whole point.

    Like Bem below, a lot of people start with “hey, JC paid the tab” or “oh shit I’m a sinner and doomed” but in that verse there is, I believe, the core of Christendom.

    Hey JC what should we do?
    Be perfect

    Whoops fucked up
    I gotcha fam

  5. Jim, they took you out in the woods, surrounded you and tried to convert you? How sneaky. If they had complemented your strengths and accomplishments they would have sucked you right in. But you had to think “now that you folks got me feeling so dirty and lost” it must have been like talking your way out of a sales pitch. The lesson to learn from this is: when inviting a scruffy downtrodden person to dinner, never introduce them as such. They do have good points and attributes. No one wants to be seen as a bum off the streets charitably invited to sit at a nice table. You have to fish what their accomplishments are. Maybe they were a war hero. Find out and intro them as such.

    I myself have been invited to such dinners a few times. Once the meatloaf settles and the storytelling starts, I try to carefully open a can of red pill gospel. “Pssss” like a shaken can, a little at a time. One family, the wife had this big hair do and ran her mouth the whole time. They had an only child with no definitive ‘plans’ for more and I had to wait for the right moment to interject my favorite that “YOU need to say less and breed more”. That it is women’s purpose of existence on this great green Earth to “BREED, to TIT FEED an to SERVICE thy patriarchal master”. . Heh . . heh . . They actually invited me back once and promised to prepare the same meatloaf. It was an awkward moment for them but a true one which I guess they wanted to somehow recapture the moment. . . heh.

    1. And anyone who brings a damn bible hiking with them deserves to be the first course when some Donner Party shit goes down – you know how much beef jerky they COULD have been carrying instead of paper!?!?!!?

      1. The Donner Party is some story. I never heard of them before. It’s probably required middle school state history in Utah and Nevada. Most public schools these days are real thorough about teaching the particular Indian tribes that resided in the state. For example in Maine, every school kid gets taught the history of the Wabanaki. I’m from elsewhere and say “the wabba-WHAT”. In my state they pounded the indigenous tribes history hard and because I got A’s, I can name the particular tribes from my state on my fingers after all these years along with colonial and classic Euro history. I hope they’re still teaching classic Euro history and not just tonto.

    2. What got me is I was best friends with that guy for nearly a decade since middle school, the whole time I was agnostic. Never had them talk religion to me until they learned I was looking into the lads church.

      I would agree with you on converting someone. Build on common ground

      1. Judge by the fruits. LDS was the best medicine for you that paid off. Still a person can become agnostic with or without a religious upbringing. They sense a higher power but lack hard proof or have never seen doctrine or prayer in action. Or they don’t fully trust the established church.

        Katy Perry splits from her father and comes out as agnostic. Perhaps throwing out her father’s belief system is what gave her the albeit ‘sterile fruits’ from hollywood. Agnostic is middle of the road between belief and non belief, but as her eggs grow dusty, Katy will probably go the way of other celebrities with the Eastern fad religions. The fruits are slim for the western man who goes with Eastern mysticism.

        George Harrison who passed from cancer in 2001 went all the way Eastern mysticism and requested his ashes be thrown into the Ganges River. I’m like, yeah makes a lot of sense to a western man with kids. LDS for example would fit like a sock for a western man with kids, but not for ending up in the Ganges. And Harrison named his only son Dhanni. A cool dude I’m sure, but why the Indian o phile stuff? I’ll bet Dhanni rebells and goes Scientology someday.

        In India, their beaches are unsurfable with human turd piles everywhere. Eastern religions seem so alien. They’re okay for Indians/Asians, but they’re the wrong fit for propagating western culture. It’s strange how Eastern religions seem to fit Hollywood perfectly.

        LDS should be the most antithesis of Hollywood that it can be. It should especially strive now to be a magnate for and cater to the man bitten by the patriarchy bug that’s sweeping the land. I partially understand why so many celebs and their sheep followers go for the eastern mysticism schtick. The western Krishna sect that Harrison and many others joined differs from traditional Hindus in that they have priesthood for both men and women. They did this to sell conversion in the west during the late 60s when feminism was stampeding and driving wives to abandon their nests like buffalos.

        I still wish mainstream LDS would go somewhat lighter on the polygynist fundamentalists though. Banished from mainstream temples maybe but not persecuted. Leave them be in the hills. Maybe mission to them to avoid inbreeding. Inbreeding is the devil and a very bad monkey rolled into one. The public at large cares not so much about dissociating from the image of a man with 2+ wives. The general public is about to shoot up mainline LGBTQ for God’s sake. Compared to LGBTQ, the polys make for smokin yet comparably wholesome reality TV on a Sunday evening.

        A great LDS church that attracts members would be one that’s packed with domestically skilled V-card holding nubes eager to wife. The typical ‘overcommer’ community box churches can absorb the broken women, the divorcees and the simpleton ‘peasant’ caliber women if they can. A twice divorced woman invited to sit in on a Mormon service will bring doo doo into the pews I guarantee you. By all means keep the LDS churches stocked with only the best and most virtuous females and the virtuous men will come. The place will thrive. A man can grow in faith and wisdom from mistakes but a woman must avoid mistakes, simple.

  6. Jim, what is the difference between Mormons & JoHos?

    had some JoHos come a knockin’ on my door yesterday (they were doing a drive in my area) always thought they were more a cult than religion, one of these ‘afterthoughts’ if you will, perhaps you can shed some light on this subject?

    1. JeHos believe that divine perfection is possible on earth, while the Mormons know better.
      And Mormons are always blond kids with white shirts whereas Jehos are matronly black women.

      1. cheers Bem, not sure if your serious or not, all the JeHos that did the door knocking where white here, dont know how they do it in the US, but most of the time they ‘hunt in packs’ a middle age man an old lady & a young child, dont really see Mormons here.

        yeah an old (well dressed) JeHo bailed me up outside (i know i know, i should have hid in garage until they left the area) and i didnt hold back on what i have learned over the years from reading ROK about (((beliefs))) and the older gent didnt try and sway my opinion in any way (suppose he’s heard it all over the years) so i was quite happy i didnt get the ‘speel’ for half and hour.

        1. That is the extent of my understanding, just based on the literature they leave behind. Usually they just ask if I’m a Christian, go to church blah blah blah.
          Never had a Mormon come to the door or engage me in any way. I’ve only known a few and never in an evangelical capacity.

          1. they do that here also, ask if you go to church etc.
            yeah Mormons here keep a low profile.

      1. no worries, thought you might have known a “they believe this, we believe that” sort of thing.

    2. The distinction between baseline Bible teaching and the various faiths that have come along with their own additional holy texts is often only found in the subtleties.

      For example, here’s a side-by-side comparison between baseline biblical teaching and Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, and even if you don’t care about the significance of the different distinctions, you can quickly note that they don’t disagree on everything:

      Likewise, because Mormonism does not reject the Bible, but instead add their own sacred texts, there will be a lot of things which, in the broad strokes, will be shared with and identical to baseline Bible teaching, but obviously what is in the texts specific to them defines details which are not contained in the baseline Bible.

      In one manner of speaking, you can see this even within the mainline Church with the different Sects, “creeds”, or even with Calvinism vs. Arminianism vs. Molinism. What is contained in those types of documents are a distinction, a supplemental or explanatory statement on some aspect of doctrine or theology, only that unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, none of them thought they were branching out into a new religion requiring a new name with new texts that held equal weight to the Bible itself.

      Not everybody agreed even on that, and that’s what has led to the great many schisms in the Church.

      The reason this trend is important to see and understand is because distinction is a double-edged sword, and as we’ve seen with feminism, if you can guilt someone into thinking that pointing out distinction is petty, or that the distinction only exists for bad reasons, people will abandon distinction altogether, because Most People Are Idiots and subtlety is entirely lost on them.

      Christians are called to distinction, but not between one sect or another, but between us and a world enslaved to sin. This dynamic is currently perverted to an extreme in Islam, and you can be certain that Satan is using Islam to poison the ideological well to continue to get Christians to throw out the truth regarding how followers of God are supposed to behave.

      Now, the reason I bring up Islam is that both Islam and Mormonism have a similar state with respect to Christianity in that if you take their extra-biblical texts literally, or at least seriously, there are significant discrepancies and contradictions. And I don’t mean like the kind where someone got the number of horses wrong, or told a story slightly different, I mean things core to doctrine and theology.

      Here are some examples for LDS where some of their texts agree with the baseline Bible, and yet some of their texts don’t, to the extent of creating an internal contradiction within the LDS church without even needing to consider the baseline Bible:

      There are differences between what the baseline Bible teaches, what Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, all of them teach, but the most critical point to emphasize is this: who is Jesus Christ to you? Will you put down your arms in rebellion against God and accept the gift of salvation or will you reject it in search of salvation you can bring about by your own efforts?

      You don’t need a Bible to be a Christian, or to have picked the “right church” or the “right translation” or anything like that, you need reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. The rest of the details just don’t matter as much as where you place your faith, and then we can spend both our temporal and eternal lives sorting out the intellectually satisfying details afterwards.

Comments are closed.