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Keep the Commandments

I was asked about a list of “commandments” to keep.  The person was sincerely trying to keep the commandments, but lacked a comprehensive list of them.

It is not possible to list all commandments.  In one sense there are only two:  Love God.  Love you fellow man.  All others are extensions of those.

If you love God you will do what He asks of you.  Whenever something comes to your attention He would have you do, you do it.  For example, Christ was baptized and said to “Follow Him.”  So because of your love of God, you follow Him.

But Christ also showed repeatedly, that the second commandment was greater than the rules.  Keeping the Sabbath day holy, for example, was subordinate to loving and freeing His fellow man.  He freed men from sin on the Sabbath by forgiving sins.  He freed them from physical injury or disease by healing on the Sabbath.  Both were considered work, and therefore an offense to the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Your individual path back to God will begin with following the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  At some point, however, you will find that individual service and obedience to God’s will for you will create disharmony between you and others.  Can’t be avoided.  If you’re following Christ, you will find the same things He found.  Helping someone in need will take you away from Church meetings on occasion.  You can’t make a list and keep it, because as soon as you do the list will interfere with loving God and loving your fellow man.

So the whole matter can be reduced to this:  Follow Christ, receive the ordinances, accept the Holy Ghost, who will teach you all things you must do.  Any list beyond that will inevitably result in conflicts and contradictions. 

Elder Oaks

My wife also suggested I add something about Elder Oaks’ talk at Harvard, since some readers may not have access to the information:
 
When discussing our beliefs he explained that personal revelation is fundamental to Mormon beliefs.  “some wonder how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accept a modern prophet’s teachings to guide their personal lives, something that is unusual in most religious traditions.  Our answer to the charge that Latter-day Saints follow their leaders out of ‘blind obedience’ is this same personal revelation.  We respect our leaders and presume inspiration in their leadership of the church and in their teachings.  but we are all privileged and encouraged to confirm their teachings by prayerfully seeking and receiving revelatory conformation directly from God.”
 
When asked by a Divinity School student why Joseph Smith was any more reliable than Mary Baker Eddy, he responded: “If you want to know go to the ultimate source.  The answer to that question can only come from God himself.  That’s what I encourage anyone who asks me about it.  I can’t promise when it will happen with anyone, but I can promise it will happen.”

Trials

On Friday Marie Osmond’s son died in LA of an apparent suicide.  My heart goes out to her.  Some trials in life are not meant to be understood, but only to be endured.  The suffering from unexplainable ordeals can bring us closer to the Lord, who alone can comfort us in such extremities.

In Chile there are over 200 dead and many missing.  There is a race to rescue about 100 people trapped in a building.  Aftershocks and injuries threaten those who are trapped.

There are no magic words to console those who endure tests in mortality.  But we do have the promise from Him whose word is law and cannot return to Him unfulfilled:  “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  (Rev. 7: 17.)  If God intends to do this in the final day, the only God-like conduct we can imitate is to lessen the burdens felt by those with a sense of loss today.

Trials

On Friday Marie Osmond’s son died in LA of an apparent suicide.  My heart goes out to her.  Some trials in life are not meant to be understood, but only to be endured.  The suffering from unexplainable ordeals can bring us closer to the Lord, who alone can comfort us in such extremities.

In Chile there are over 200 dead and many missing.  There is a race to rescue about 100 people trapped in a building.  Aftershocks and injuries threaten those who are trapped.

There are no magic words to console those who endure tests in mortality.  But we do have the promise from Him whose word is law and cannot return to Him unfulfilled:  “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  (Rev. 7: 17.)  If God intends to do this in the final day, the only God-like conduct we can imitate is to lessen the burdens felt by those with a sense of loss today.

Missionaries in Chile

According to this morning’s Deseret News, all LDS missionaries in the affected areas of Chile are safe and accounted for.  My wife suggested that there are readers outside Utah who may want news like that put onto the blog.
 

Becoming One

The idea of being “one” (as Christ put it in His great Intercessory Prayer in John 17: 20-23) has been oftentimes misunderstood and the source of abuse.  There should be nothing compulsory about this process.  “Oneness” is a byproduct, and not an end.  When we seek it as an end, then we have missed the opportunity to achieve it.
Believing “oneness” is achieved by making people think alike, look alike, be alike, or behave alike is so wrongheaded as to be Satanic.  The ideal expressed by Christ as He prayed to the Father was that we should each attempt, in our limited capacities, to be more like Christ.  The closer we approach that ideal, the more we become “one” as a byproduct.  Merely giving a list of behavior as the way to “oneness” is not only foolish, but it is impossible.  It must come from within, and cannot come from without.
Paul’s 14th Chapter of Romans is actually the only way in which “oneness” can be attained.  Let everyone decide what they believe will make them closer to Christ, and allow them the freedom to follow that path.  Let all others refrain from judging the behavior of others.  Whether they “eateth herbs” or “eateth meat” let each be free to do what they believe to be right before God.  “Judge not him that eateth: for God hath received him.”  Let everyone do what in their own heart they believe is right before God, because God will respect anything done on His behalf.  And let everyone else refrain from judging these honest efforts, but bear with one another.
This will give rise to widely diverse behavior. but will result in an absolute uniformity of intent.  Everyone should be free to do what they believe God is asking them to do.  And everyone should also respect the honest efforts of others.

Over time, perhaps over generations, behavior will grow closer as a result of the purity of the underlying intent.  Not because someone is compelling uniformity, but because light and truth will eventually bring harmony.

Being “one” just as building Zion cannot be a goal in itself.  It is always a byproduct of the kind of people which changed hearts produce.

In a private conversation with someone a few years ago he commented that he wished the definition of “Mormonism” would be changed.  He thought that anyone who was willing to accept the ordinances of the Church ought to be regarded as being Mormon, no matter what else they may differ on.  I’ve thought about his comment for years now.  I’m inclined to see a great deal of wisdom in that idea.  I’ve grown to see that those comments echo the earlier writings of the Apostle Paul.

Elder Oaks at Harvard

Elder Oaks spoke to law and divinity students at Harvard this week.  The talk was recorded and may be broadcast between General Conference sessions.  He spoke for about 45 minutes then took questions.  Among the comments he made was that neither the Church nor Evangelicals would identify Mormons as Evangelicals.  He also noted the hostility of higher education to religious values and beliefs, despite the widespread religious convictions of Americans.

A Tennesse Ward and the Lord

I have a friend in Tennessee who emailed me this week about a Latter-day Saint congregation he visited a few Sunday’s ago.  The congregation was of mixed races, and the meetings were louder, more animated and lively than the “typical” ward.  He quite enjoyed it.  His description of the visit made me long for the mission field again. In the mission field there are widely divergent congregations.  But the Wasatch Front is far different in texture and tone than anywhere else.  I think there are people here who believe a stoic face is required to be reverent.

My impression of the mortal Lord is that He was gregarious, lively, filled with life, and given to smiling often.  He surely was challenged by serious men involved in conspiracies to have Him killed, and for them His responses were serious.  But He was filled with life, and love and humor.  His many analogies drew from the common man’s experience to teach with simplicity the deepest of ideas.  I think He would have fit into the Tennessee ward my friend told me about.

I think when the scriptures note “He wept” it was because His normal demeanor was so upbeat, so positive and hope-filled that weeping stood out by contrast.

I’ve only sensed that I genuinely offended Him once.  All other errors and mistakes have merely “bemused” Him, even though I have felt terrible from my end.  He is a patient Teacher.  Who knows exactly when you are ready and then how best to teach.

Argument

I’ve never won an argument with the Lord.