At church on Sunday, we had an interesting discussion about Elder Hallstrom’s talk from the April 2012 General Conference. In that talk, Elder Hallstrom talks about the difference between the church and the gospel. Very enlightening.
One thing that comes up again and again in my mind, is a comment our instructor, a retired university professor, mentioned. He suggested that we could gain a lot by considering what is Necessary and what is Sufficient when it comes to our relationship with the church, with the gospel, and with God.
Let me explain….
A lot of times in the church, we talk about those things that we should do, whether that means actively doing them or actively avoiding them. For example, the doing of our religious experience includes attending church, helping others, reading scriptures, praying, and so forth. The actively avoiding, which is still an act of doing, might include things like avoiding sin, avoiding pornography, staying away from immorality, and so forth. Brother Thompson’s question regarding Necessary and Sufficient was designed to help us see beyond these mere acts of doing.
It is, of course, necessary that we avoid sin. However, is avoiding sin sufficient to save us? No. By itself, avoiding sin is not sufficient to save us. The same can be said of getting baptized: It is necessary that we be baptized, but being baptized is not sufficient to save us.
What I found truly enlightening by the conversation is the apparent reality that all these necessary things are, independently, insufficient to effect salvation in us should they remain independent of our other acts. It is in the combining of them over the course of a life that creates sufficiency.
So what does that mean to us? I think a lot of people focus on those necessary things to the exclusion of the sufficient things. If you look at the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the virgins are clearly good people who are, for all intents and purposes, members of the church. They were invited to the wedding feast after all and are part of that group. So why did five run out of oil and five have enough? Why did only five have sufficient?
I suggest that the difference comes in understanding that necessary things only matter when the goal is to gain sufficient. We can spend our lives toiling on that which is necessary. It won’t amount to anything if it never moves beyond that.
Maybe another comparison from another talk by Elder Robbins: In this talk, Elder Robbins compares doing vs being or becoming. Doing is merely necessary. It’s a rote act, often one of repetition. Being or becoming, however, is a consistent, regular striving to be changed. To be moved and changed by the experiences and actions we take.
Doing is necessary; being is sufficient. The scriptures talk about being like the Savior, recognizing Him because we are like Him. We should all let Do (necessary) lead us to Be (sufficient).