Monday, March 6, 2017

What do you hunger and thirst for?

I find that many people think that they are hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Actually, what they are doing is merely casually seeking, and what they seek is not righteousness but "some new thing."

(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) (Acts 17:21)
You may not know, but many Christians who have never had any contact with LDS tradition self-describe as "the remnant." Many from both groups (the Christian and Mormon remnants) are well-described by the above scripture.

As a case study, consider Denver Snuffer's followers. Every time Denver comes up with something, these people are over the moon with excitement. There are mp3s and pdfs. There are cross references and new implementations. There are sycophantic blogposts and conferences, often attended at great personal cost. How many of these people spend even half that effort in scripture searches, prayer, and personal repentance with God? It might seem judgmental to say, but the scriptural ignorance of these folks indicates that the answer to at least that category is "few if any."

Brother Snuffer asked the Lord to provide a check to prevent the patriarchal abuse experienced in the LDS church, and says the Lord told him that the permission of seven women would be required for a man to perform baptisms. At that meeting (I was there), someone approached him and said, "could this be the fulfillment of Isaiah 4:1?" If I recall, Denver said he hadn't thought about it. Despite the fact that the scripture's context has nothing to do with today and clearly describes an incident where women are going to men and not the other way around, the common use of the number seven was enough to provide a proof text for those who wanted one. Recently, Denver produced an expansion of John the Beloved's account. Again, the people were quick to latch onto this as the fulfillment of D&C 93:6. Unfortunately, even a high level reading quickly shows that such is not the case (in spite of any benefit the text might provide). John saw Jesus' fullness, and he recorded it. That isn't what we have in the Bible, and it is also missing from Denver's expansion of John's record.

One of the devil's chief tactics is counterfeit. Rather than squinting and shoehorning to force the supposed fulfillment of scripture, we ought to be expecting to see thin associations between what is described in the scriptures and what is offered to us by the numerous distracting voices. It may seem foolish to assume that a scarecrow is a farmer, and it may seem ridiculous to imagine someone writing blogposts or taking out newspaper ads declaring the authenticity of a scarecrow farmer. However, this is exactly what I'd expect to see from people who crave to meet a farmer, have never seen one, and encounter a strawman instead. Look! A flannel shirt! Look! Overalls! Look! A pitchfork! They conveniently overlook the straw head and straw stuffing. The ignore that a farmer is not identified by a uniform but by the work he performs. They pay no attention to the fact that the scarecrow doesn't even move, let alone perform farmwork. Look! Baptism! Look! New scripture! Look! A temple! What has really been given that you didn't already have? Has anything that appears new actually resulted in your repenting and experiencing God?

Why are these folks so quick to jump on something that isn't there? Why are so they so determined to set up a prophet in their own image? Why are they so blind to the lack of the promised fruits of the gospel in their own lives? Because it is easier to worship a man, whether he likes it or not, than it is to worship God. You can worship a man with your money and your time, but God requires your heart, and you can't fool him with something less.

Other Christians are just as bad. They buy books, go to conferences, and chatter endlessly about some new thing from some new prophet/pastor/reverend/priest. And yet, nothing changes in their hearts. They trade one idol for another.

Wouldn't it be nice if, instead of this negative description, the remnants could be described with a more positive one?
Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. (Helaman 3:35)
There is a big difference between heaping up teachers that scratch your itch and hungering and thirsting after righteousness. You can do the first in spite of living in sin. The second requires repentance.

There are two parts to hungering and thirsting after righteousness. First, hungering and thirsting. If you are thirsty or hungry, you will pause whatever you are doing, and you will go and find something to quench your desire. Even if you try to put it from your mind, your body won't let you. Your stomach will growl. Your tongue will stick to your mouth. In extreme cases, your stomach will be in great pain and your kidneys will hurt. Second, righteousness. Righteousness is not what most people think it is. It is having your heart ripped out and broken to pieces. It is to be ridiculed. It is to put everything that matters to you on an altar, and seeing it burn to ashes. If you do not treasure being corrected, you are not interested in righteousness. If you care more about what others think of you than what God thinks of you, you are not interested in righteousness. If anything is off limits to God, you are not interested in righteousness.

If you hunger and thirst after righteousness, your prevailing desire is to obtain and do God's will. It is something you are always thinking about, and everything else is a mere distraction.

What do you do when you find yourself with some extra time? What do you wake up early for? What do you stay up late for? How do you spend your vacation time? What percentage of each 24 hours is spent praying or studying the scriptures?

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 ¶No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6)