My family read Alma 21 in the Book of Mormon this week ; a zealous young missionary teaches in a hostile city, encountering intensely reflexive skepticism, then:
10 And it came to pass as he began to expound these things unto them they were angry with him, and began to mock him; and they would not hear the words which he spake.
11 Therefore, when he saw that they would not hear his words, he departed out of their synagogue, and came over to a village which was called Ani-Anti, and there he found Muloki preaching the word unto them; and also Ammah and his brethren. And they contended with many about the word.
12 And it came to pass that they saw that the people would harden their hearts, therefore they departed and came over into the land of Middoni. And they did preach the word unto many, and few believed on the words which they taught.
Wow. That’s three whole cities that almost totally reject the message in the same number of verses. This compact little narrative surely illustrates not only the nature of reality, but the Book of Mormon’s accuracy in depicting it.
Whole chapters get devoted to the rare, inspiring miracles of mass conversions (like those associated with Ammon), but this chapter is far more typical: most of the time, the gospel message will be mocked, ignored, and denied. This may not create warm fuzzy feelings, but I enjoy having a book of scripture whose view of life is anything but rosy. No fake wishful thinking here.
This reminds me of another favorite Book of Mormon verse; In Moroni 9, Mormon encourages his son in the work of the ministry despite knowing that it will ultimately fail:
6 And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.