Sunday, December 18, 2016

Few there be that find it.

The gospel is like a highway with a million forked exits. Sometimes, you need to stay left to stay on the path. Sometimes, however, you need to bear right to stay on the highway. Staying on is not the default outcome. It is hard. You have to continually question everything you think you know. You have to avoid pitfall after pitfall, distraction after distraction. The Lord has to allow distractions, counterfeits, and frauds to be as frequent as genuine opportunities to advance. There is often purpose in allowing you to temporarily embrace something not entirely true. Truth is progressive, and there is opposition in all things. This is why there are so few that find the way to eternal life. Most don't search at all, and those who do are routinely satisfied with far less than everything that God has. They cash in their chips at the first sign of increase, when the gospel requires continual reinvestment and routine loss of all presumptive gains.

There are NO shortcuts. There is no other way to be saved except coming into the presence of God the Father, and that is accomplished by first coming into the presence of Jesus Christ the Son. There is no other way, and there is no other way to come to him than how he has described. You must actually seek out his word. You must actually live it. You must actually spend an enormous amount of time and effort seeking him in focused, sincere, longing prayer. There is no other way.

Though there are no shortcuts, there are best practices. One best practice is to heed God's commandment to look to him directly, and his commandment to seek not to be "cumbered":

"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." (D&C 6:36).

"Seek not to be cumbered. Forsake all unrighteousness. Commit not adultery—a temptation with which thou hast been troubled." (D&C 66:10).

These concepts are best learned through a counterexample found in Martha:

38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10).

Martha, like most of us, was anxious to jump right into what she believed was the laundry list of to-do items that would earn God's favor. She was not willing to wait upon the Lord. She wasted a lot of time. In the end, her satisfaction was limited to the hollow, unsure feeling that her busyness was equivalent to God's validation. Sadly, her accomplishments were not recognized by God. You do not want to arrive in God's presence only to have him say that your efforts were on things that were not of him. Those whose works are not of him will be told that he doesn't know you.

There are no laundry lists. Baptism (or rebaptism) will not magically whisk you into the Lord's presence. Meeting in fellowships will not do it. Donating to the poor will not do it. A church is not going to save you. Any authority they claim to have is markedly absent in their ability to cause a man to inherit the blessings promised the faithful. The same goes for any group of men, or any single man. Is there really any difference in the mechanism of the claim to authority? Unfortunately, when a man is freed from his false traditions, the first thing he does is find himself some new false traditions to take the place of the old.

1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
 8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. (Galatians 4:1-11).

You have been freed from your slavery by being taught that you have direct access to God. Why would you ever willingly re-enslave yourself? Stop cutting yourself off from the Lord by fixating on the limited accomplishments of mortal men!

Their messages may have merit, and may even be critical to your personal advancement. However, rather than swallowing anything they say or do with baited breath, their messages ought to be evaluated case-by-case, gleaned for any truth, and then cast aside. A hungry man casts away the peel of an orange after eating it, continuing his search knowing that the hunger will soon return. Only a fool would build the peel into a shrine, and change their food search strategy to focus only on orange peels.

What most fail to realize is that true messengers are not conduits but batteries. They can offer up what they have attained, but they cannot offer up what they themselves have not attained. They are not a gateway to heaven, but a discrete dispensation of knowledge in a container mired with their own traditions, beliefs, experiences, and other biases.

Whoever you hitch up to, you will limit yourself to their progress. Many are happy with that. Some few will not be, and will make their target God instead of a man.

The Psalmist wrote:

4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. (Psalm 27:4, 8).

This is right.