I attended sacrament meeting at the Samoan ward this past Sunday. In High Priest meeting they chose to discuss the formalities of performing ordinances. There was a bit of a hang up when the discussion came to the sacrament prayer. Apparently, in the Samoan language, there are two ways to pray. One uses an honorific language and the other uses a common language. The church headquarters stated that the common language is to be used. One of the men made the observation that even though President Monson signed the decree, he probably didn’t know the difference between the two types of language used by Samoan’s. After all, President Monson doesn’t speak Samoan. The man then said that President Monson was probably advised by a committee and signed it, trusting that they knew better. The person stated that the honorific language was intended for royalty, and who can be more royal than God and Christ?
It’s obvious to me that the honorific language ought to be used in the case of the sacrament prayer, just as the Samoan brother said. However, tradition states that when the prophet makes a decision, we fall in line and obey. One way of praying teaches the correct attributes and perfections of our God, but the other way avoids confusion and contention by bringing uniformity and order. Which is better, uniformity and order or knowing the characteristics and attributes of God? This is a perfect conundrum (a difficult problem). We are placed on earth to be tested. And that test is based on how we choose. Do we choose to know God, or do we put our trust in the arm of flesh?
In this grand test of life, one thing is certain, man will make mistakes. Even the highest of offices are filled with men. Some of the mistakes of these men may be seen of men and others may be hidden. The scriptures teach that knowing the words of Christ provides you with a knowledge of God. The bi-product of having the knowledge of God is that you will not be deceived. Not by men, nor by the offices filled by men.
Moses, after receiving the knowledge of God, recognized the “nothingness of man.” When Satan came in the form of an angel of light, Moses could not be deceived. Remember, Satan isn’t unattractive. He is probably very good looking, knows the words of Christ, and knows how to use the laws for his benefit. He isn’t repulsive like we commonly think. Just as Moses, knowing God, could not be fooled, likewise, the more we know of God, the greater our shield of faith.
Faith is the solidification process of our knowledge of God. It starts out as fluid as liquid. As we learn more of the mind and will of God our faith gels into a gelatin consistency. One with great faith has great understanding and trust in the things of our God. One with unshaken faith, even more so. The end of your faith is perfect knowledge. At this point your faith has transformed into a solid rock of knowledge, and your faith now is dormant.
The story of Lehi and his boys is a clear communication of the conundrum we face. Initially, Lehi was faced with the choice of following his church leaders or to follow God. Since we know the story from the Book of Mormon after the event already happened, it’s easy to know that Lehi was to become the prophet in the promised land. But at the time Lehi left Jerusalem, he was not regarded as the spiritual leader amongst the leaders of the children of Israel. Lehi was being stoned as an outcast, as a heathen, as a sinner. He was faced with the conundrum of “follow the leader or follow God.” Always and forever, it was man that fell away, that created the choice between following the leader and following God. God does not change or fall away. Man is always at the helm of an apostasy. God is perfect and infallible. Man is fallible, even when they hold a high office. We can trust God, but we must never forget that man’s ways are not God’s ways.
The only way Lehi was prepared to know which to chose is through the words of Christ (which tells us all things what we should do). Because of Lehi’s knowledge of the words of Christ, he could not be deceived by men. Lehi and Moses both could discern between what is of God and what is not.
All of Lehi’s sons where taught the words of Christ. They risked their lives to obtain it. Their father studied it and taught from it. However, Laman and Lemuel both took the path of ignorantly obeying. When the command came from Lehi to do some hard thing, Laman and Lemuel rebelled because of their ignorance, to the point of wanting to kill their father and brother.
All of the sons of Lehi learned of Lehi’s dream. But Nephi’s response was significantly different from Laman and Lemuel’s. Nephi studied the scriptures, pondered to know what they meant and pondered the meaning of Lehi’s dream. Nephi sought to know the mysteries of God and was given a visitation, thus allowing Nephi to begin to know God. He did not yet know God to the extent of Lehi or Moses. But his knowledge of God was solidifying (his faith was beginning to gel and harden into a foundation of rock). Eventually, an angel appeared and gave Nephi the grand tour of the heavens. It was upon these experiences that Nephi’s knowledge solidified to become a foundation of rock.
Laman and Lemuel stated that “…the Lord maketh no such things known unto us.” Nephi told them that it was because they didn’t read the scriptures. Laman and Lemuel tossed in the wind. They repented on some days, and then they rebelled on others (varying understanding leads to varying faith). There was an obvious internal battle that went unresolved in them because of the absence of the words of Christ, because of their unfamiliarity with Christ and the dealings of God with man. Notice, Laman and Lemuel went back to get the plates, and then again to get Ishmael’s family. They followed Lehi into the wilderness. They crossed the ocean and entered into the promised land. They followed the prophet. But, since their choices were not founded in the knowledge of God, through the words of Christ, even their father Lehi could not stop them from going astray and never partaking of the fruit of the tree of life.
In the case of Lehi’s family, …perhaps someone making the observation of the problems faced by Laman and Lemuel, could be considered “being negative.” I was told that I too come off as “being negative.” In my opinion, my observations are neutral. I know that Satan is the only enemy and have no ill feelings towards Laman or Lemuel, or anyone in their likeness. I am trying my best to carefully state the truth of the words of God, because I can somewhat see that an invitation to come unto Jesus is probably the greatest expression of love there is. If anyone takes those words as negative, I offer my apologies. The gospel is perfect. I, on the other hand, am not perfect.
I was recently told that “…all we are supposed to do is feed His sheep.” I would ask… then, …what are we supposed to feed them? Does it matter what we feed them? We have the option of feeding them niceties, which condescend and hold ourselves above them. Such invitations are often translated into, “…If you look like us, then you would be happier.” If someone comes to church, dresses like us, pays their tithing, doesn’t drink or smoke, makes comments in Sunday school, brings their scriptures to class, holds family home evenings, etc., we would consider them converted, and on the path to eternal life. But, just because people dress, look and act like us, is that a good indicator that Christ’s sheep are being fed? Such is the condemnation of false traditions, void of substance. Are we substituting the feast of substance, with meals of niceties, that leave men famished and always hungry in the end?
If we are to feed the sheep of Christ, we ought to feed them the meat from which if they eat, they shall never hunger. We should offer them the living waters, that if they drink, they shall never thirst. The words of Christ are what the sheep of Christ ought to be feasting upon. It is not to be fed all at once, but in constant waves and in every conversation. That is why Nephi suggests that we talk of Christ, preach of Christ, rejoice in Christ and prophesy of Christ. It is Christ that is the feast upon the sacrament table. That is the symbolism of the fruit of the tree of life.
If we (ourselves) …are starved of the living waters and the meat of Christ, how are we supposed to feed others this eternal drink and meat? The ancient saints claimed that they cast out devils in Christ’s name, they performed miracles in Christ’s name, they healed the sick in Christ’s name. Christ’s reply to them was, “…depart from me. I never knew you.”
When we speak the words of Christ, we speak directly to the spirit of man, the higher being within them. Speaking with the tongue of angels (with the power of the Holy Ghost) is speaking from spirit to spirit. It is not preaching. It’s not proving the words. It has little to do with convincing, or marketing, or conning them into believing what you say. We don’t have to sell the gospel. We protect the agency of man when we extend the words of Christ, and then leave it to them, the individual, to make the proper choice, to govern themselves. We aren’t to be results oriented. We are to be purpose driven. When the mind and will of God is the driving force, …nothing you do can be wrong for very long. Nephi beheaded Laban. Alma and Amulek killed all the men within the prison walls. Joshua killed all the citizens of Jericho, and their animals. Abinidai was allowed to be slain. So was the people of Anti-nephi-lehi. And so was the Prophet Joseph Smith. Only the mind and will of God has the power to unite the hearts and minds of people so that they can become more ordered. When the words of Christ are spoken, it will always grip people who love God, at the heart and the mind.
There is a threshing going on right now. There is a separation going on of the wheat from the tares. While obedience is absolutely detrimental in the plan of salvation, it is the knowledge of God that is considered “life eternal.”
Our current circumstance is a perfect conundrum. If our foundation is built upon the things of this world, then when things get difficult, it will be the things of the world that we will look to as our solutions (lust like Laman and Lemuel). But when our foundation is built upon the rock of salvation (Christ), then …in our difficulty, we will find that holding to the rod is our only option. Holding to the rod will bring us to the tree of life. The fruit of the tree of life is described in Alma 32:42 as being a fruit that if you eat you shall never hunger or thirst. That is what we are to feed the sheep. That is the fruit worth giving to those in whom you really love. When you feed this fruit, you feed both the body and the spirit. That is real soul food.
2 Nephi 32:3
“3. Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; Wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you a lll things what ye should do.”
We are given an invitation to become angels, and to speak with the tongue of angels. Our challenge is which master we will choose to know, to trust, to follow, to serve. It is our agency that allows us to choose to become sons and daughters of Christ. We choose by the currency of time that our minds are occupied in knowing the God we seek. That is the perfect conundrum.