Friday, August 12, 2016

"For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake."

I would say that I've gone through a few phases of understanding about what the gospel is like.

In my first phase, I felt I had discovered a pearl of great price in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I sold everything I had to buy it. I thought the only thing keeping others from it was knowing about it, because that was all that had kept me from it. I was violently dismayed to learn that few, if any, recognize its value. Most do not recognize its value immediately, and few recognize its value even after a lifetime of living it, as they suppose.

 44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13)

In my second phase, I felt that God wanted to use to me to sift the wheat from the tares by going out and offering his gospel. Sure, I would be rejected by the majority of people, but there would surely be some (many?) out there who would see the priceless value of Jesus and his gospel. I was violently dismayed to learn that few, if any, recognize its value. Most do not recognize its value immediately, and few recognize its value even after a lifetime of living it, as they suppose. Even those who are interested drink shallowly from the waters that flow freely--holding on tightly to the dark corners of their heart that they will not give to God.

16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. (Jeremiah 16:16)

33 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.
 34 Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely; (Alma 5)

My third phase began one day when a church leader asked me to accept a leadership position. I was shocked because I figured my time had come and I would be kicked out of the LDS church. Instead, I was offered a leadership position. As I walked out of the building, I looked up to the sky and said, "really?!" The Lord spoke to me in an audible voice and said "I will show you how great things you must suffer for my name's sake," which is very similar to what he said to Ananias about Paul (see Acts 9:16). He gave me to understand what he meant: He was going to teach me how it is to be a god--not in a power sense, but in the sense of what godly suffering is like. In my third phase, I have come to realize that the gospel is not about other people--it is about us as individuals. I have come to realize that to become like God is to live like God. The way God lives is that he is surrounded by people who do not appreciate what he has to offer, and will not embrace it to the degree he has embraced it. Still, he loves them beyond comprehension, and readily sacrifices himself for them, even as they are in the very act of rejecting him. Jesus was spit on and murdered by the people he came to save. Even the most valiant spirits that surround God's throne day and night proclaiming his holiness occupy that position instead of one greater because they would not let go of their traditions and fully embrace what God had to offer. In a sense, God is still spat on day and night by those who most loudly proclaim his goodness. This is what it means to be like God: to sacrifice yourself day and night for eternity to people who reject what you offer them, and who are probably so blind as not to even realize you are offering it to them.

The lights shines in the darkness, but the darkness doesn't comprehend it. We don't use the word comprehend very often in modern English. It means to understand. The light shines in the darkness: God offers greater light and truth to everyone by sending teachings to them through revelation and personal ministry of others that surpass what they currently possess. The darkness comprehendeth it not: Most people do not recognize the teachings to be of God, or true, or of worth, or even to be teachings at all.

The light keeps shining, irrespective of how many listen or what it costs to the one shining.