Why do some within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not become fully invested in the Church? I believe it’s for the same reason some who are not members of the Church do not give the Church an honest look.
In the early days after the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, church members passed through a lot of adversity and persecution. I’ve watched the Church’s film Joseph Smith The Prophet of the Restoration, which is included on the new Doctrine and Covenants Visual Resource DVDs (as an aside: these are a fabulous resource, especially for only $4.50 US. Disc 3 includes 5 movies: the Joseph Smith one and others, including Treasure in Heaven, which is about my 4th great grandfather). Anyway, in watching this film now a few times, it’s remarkable how much the early church members passed through. There’s always something about seeing events dramatized that lends extra power to them. All of the events in the film should be reasonably familiar to church members who have at least a passing exposure to early church history but again, their dramatization helps make the experiences more real. In the film you see an endless stream of adversity that Joseph Smith had to swim through. At one point he comments to his wife Emma that maybe he was just made for adversity and that it is better to swim in deep waters than in shallow waters. For the faithful (and there have been few as faithful as Joseph Smith), adversity is a refiner’s fire that leads to purity.
In another of the films included on that DVD set, John R. Moyle suffers what most would consider severe adversity but is faithful unto the Lord. His story has been told in General Conference a number of times. One of my favorite tellings was by Elder Holland during the April 2000 General Conference. His talk was called As Doves to our Windows. I’ll quote his story directly:
“John R. Moyle lived in Alpine, Utah, about 22 miles as the crow flies to the Salt Lake Temple, where he was the chief superintendent of masonry during its construction. To make certain he was always at work by 8 o’clock, Brother Moyle would start walking about 2 A.M. on Monday mornings. He would finish his work week at 5 P.M. on Friday and then start the walk home, arriving there shortly before midnight. Each week he would repeat that schedule for the entire time he served on the construction of the temple.
“Once when he was home on the weekend, one of his cows bolted during milking and kicked Brother Moyle in the leg, shattering the bone just below the knee. With no better medical help than they had in such rural circumstances, his family and friends took a door off the hinges and strapped him onto that makeshift operating table. They then took the bucksaw they had been using to cut branches from a nearby tree and amputated his leg just a few inches below the knee. When against all medical likelihood the leg finally started to heal, Brother Moyle took a piece of wood and carved an artificial leg. First he walked in the house. Then he walked around the yard. Finally he ventured out about his property. When he felt he could stand the pain, he strapped on his leg, walked the 22 miles to the Salt Lake Temple, climbed the scaffolding, and with a chisel in his hand hammered out the declaration ‘Holiness to the Lord.'”
In the film version of John R. Moyle’s story, John tells his wife when she balks at him going to work on the temple after his accident saying in effect, “You’re only a stonecutter, surely there are other people who can do the work.” He replied (again, I’m paraphrasing), “We knew that this would require sacrifice; I don’t recall ever being released from my calling to go work on the temple.” What great faith! John R. Moyle understood the commitment the work of the Lord requires.
So now to answer my question about why some people do not become fully invested in the Church (or do not honestly investigate it). It’s because of fear; fear of what the work entails; fear of what conversion means. Yes, church members do attend a lot of church. That is precisely what some people are not willing to commit to. That is their fear – that they will have to give up so much time or give up so many “freedoms” to be church members. It’s as if living the gospel is so inconvenient that it takes away all of the “me time” of church members. Yes, there are some callings that require a lot of extra effort but we are so involved because we have faith in Jesus Christ and in His restored Church. We love God and others and want to serve them. People fear responsibility and being asked to do things that they are not comfortable doing. Most of all I think some people are just afraid of the Truth. Because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s true church, being a member of it requires commitment and consecration. It does mean giving up some things but with the promise of greater things in return. When we invest in the Lord’s church we have eternal returns.