One…Is A Lonely Number!

Like many of you, I follow the Olympics. A few years ago I watched the winter games held in Vancover, Canada. There were many games and events that had exciting finishes. I don’t know how many countries were represented but one quote reportedly said by the sole representative of Albania stands out in my mind. Alpine skier Erjon Tola said, “It is never good to be alone, but it is as long as it’s for my country.” Many years ago the rock group “Three Dog Night” made this statement in one of their biggest hits.

One is the loneliest, number one is the loneliest
Number one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
One is the loneliest, one is the loneliest
One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do

I know that throughout my life I have felt the same about being the “sole” representative of the church. It is not particularly good to feel alone, but when you look at it as representing your “religion”, it takes on a higher and more significant meaning. It is not easy when you feel on the “outside” looking in, but, like the Albanian athlete, it’s better to find ourselves in places as the only member than to have no one representing the restored church at all. Then, at least, there is the opportunity for others to learn about who we are. Recently Elder Oaks spoke to students at Harvard about the unfamiliarity of our religion to most.

He told the students, “We Mormons know that our doctrines and values are not widely understood by those not of our faith,” and cited pollster Gary Lawrence’s research that indicated that when interviewers are asked, “To the best of your understanding, what is the main claim of Mormonism?” only 14% could describe anything close to the idea of restoration or re-establishment of the original Christian faith.”

The problem of people being ignorant of my religious belief might be offensive if not for the fact that most don’t know much about their own religion. Elder Oaks highlighted this when he said,

“My disappointment with these findings is only slightly reduced by Lawrence’s other findings and observation that on the subject of religion Americans, in general, are “deeply religious” but “profoundly ignorant.” For example, 68% said they prayed at least several times a week, and 44% said they attended religious services almost every week. At the same time, only half could name even one of the four Gospels, most could not name the first book of the Bible, and 10% thought Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.”

While this last statement by Elder Oaks borders on comical, I have found it to be “spot” on.  I certainly don’t want to be critical of others, but throughout my life, I have rarely found anyone who is informed with regard to the Bible and its teachings. Many believe in Jesus Christ, but don’t really know anything more than that He taught us to be a “good” person. I can’t recall having a deep conversation regarding religion with any of my friends while growing up, and seldom since. So, in most cases, we are not only “alone” when it comes to being the only one representing the “church”, but often the only one representing Christ.

Such, however, is the path of those that choose to follow the Savior. They are often traveling alone, and often in hostile environments. Nevertheless, the Lord has promised all those that “put their shoulders to the wheel” eternal life and exaltation. Once when I was a ninth grader, I was running a cross-country race and found myself far enough in the lead that I couldn’t see anyone behind me. The final part of the race was through a wooded area. At that moment it seemed that I was running all by myself. But from experience I knew that I wasn’t alone and that soon I would emerge from the woods to the cheering crowd and the finish line. Likewise, the long and winding road of life will eventually lead to the door of the Savior. There those that have been faithful will receive their crowns of glory that they so justly deserve.

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