Our church sometimes seems like a ‘put your money where your mouth is’ kind of organization that places high premiums on what we do as opposed to what we believe. I’m certainly an advocate of us acting the part of believers–I think it is an evidence of conversion. But, it is important to recognize that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and we are not ‘changed from a carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness‘ in an instant. That is a process that is going to take some time. I find it interesting that the Lord, in describing his church to Alma, emphasized what we believe and said little about what we do.
“And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive. For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand. For behold, in my name they are called and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.”
Mosiah 26:22-24; emphasis mine
Every conversion begins with what we believe. Believing in his name is enough to be forgiven. Believing unto the end grants us a place at his side. As we believe in his name and his ability to redeem us we start to change–or rather we are changed by his Spirit. With time, what we believe motivates us to act: “we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command” (Mosiah 5:5). What we believe therefore shapes what we do, and ultimately helps us to come to know the Lord. After all, he states that our place at his side requires that we truly know him. King Benjamin summed things up nicely by saying: “For how knoweth a man the master who he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13)
It starts with what we believe; it continues with what we do. With time and perseverance we come to know him and take our place at his side. We place a lot of pressure on ourselves to do. In the end, it’s really more about who you know.