I was emailed a paper that evaluated and condemned a number of things about the efforts now underway to recover and continue the restoration. It made many good points. I responded to the fellow who emailed it to me with the following:
An “accuser” is always going to find plenty to condemn. Even Christ was continually condemned. Much of the criticism of Christ was justified and legitimate, in the sense that it was grounded in religious conviction, based on observable conduct that could be accurately interpreted against Christ as failures or lapses. The opposition Christ encountered from the religious society in which He lived ultimately resulted in Christ’s death and the scattering of the flock. In short, if you want to see Christ’s life as a failure, it was certainly possible to do so by that generation.
Like it is so often the case, there is plenty to accuse and condemn among the people I associate with. There will always be plenty to accuse and condemn. Those who choose to focus on the shortcomings will have enough and to spare in their search to find something to condemn.
It is much harder to unite people, and appeal to their sense of the greatest self. To have people aspire to unity of heart and purpose is, above all else, an almost unattainable end for humanity in general and gentiles in particular. Patience, love, persuasion and pure knowledge are unneeded when a person chooses to condemn and accuse. All that is needed is a flaw, a crack, or a discernible mote in the other’s eye. And in this world, there will always be some flaw, some crack, or some mote invariably present. It is the accuser who works the flaw into a failure by their worm-tongue. It is the accuser who uses the crack to divide and break. It is the accuser who dismisses the mote as utter blindness.
Christ, however, seems to help the flawed, and encourage them onward. It is Christ who helps to patch the crack and strengthen the weak. It is Christ who points out all the glory still visible to the one having the mote, and encourages they to wash away their own failure to see. This Christ does all the while refraining from belittling and condemning, and while teaching the one with the flaw, the crack, and the mote to struggle onward. He counsels the weak to not cast about to see and dismiss others’ weaknesses. While weakness is always on display, Christ advises against taking advantage of it.
I think the criticism and the condemnation is fully justified. It would be naive to think the people are ready for Zion.
I think the work remains undone to help these flawed, cracked and partially blinded people to become better. It requires patience and love and gentle encouragement to change men’s hearts.
Of course, those who want to remain in a library and look down from the upper floors of the library building will never experience the challenge of stretching their own hearts, tugging and straining their joints and sinews to help lift others. They can enjoy the folly they behold from their vantage point. That will spare them from the bruises and bleeding of the people laboring outdoors beneath them. But the academic will never live the experiences required to actually put into practice the lofty ideals about which they pontificate. They will never embed in their joints and sinews the scars and callouses required to become like their Master. They will not choose to know Him by walking beside Him, with the few who are the humble followers of Christ. They will arrive with soft hands and fragrant bodies. The laborers will arrive with rough hewn and bruised hands, and God will then judge between them.
This effort is messy. It will continue to be messy. It is hard. It will be much harder. It will probably fail, because in this world noble ventures are overwhelmed by the darkness that prevails here below. But even if it fails to accomplish the fulfillment of prophesy, those who labor the hardest will find themselves the most “added upon” by their labors. They will also find they have not developed any skill in accusing others, for they have not spent their time in that way. They are likely to have the greatest charity for others, because they will understand that they sought for heaven, and having only scaled a great mountain will feel themselves humbled by their shortcomings. But I suspect the Lord will regard them as “true and faithful” and be delighted at their scaling of a great mountain that only few have managed in mortality.
Godliness is a very rare thing among mortals. But it is godliness we seek. And charity toward all men. Therefore we ought to have little time to compose accusations and judgments, and when we encounter them we ought to humbly acknowledge we are worthy of condemnation because we only imitate our Lord, we are not Him. We only seek to obey Him, but know we will unwittingly disobey.
Thank you for sending the paper. It makes many justified criticisms. I always appreciate knowing more fully the errors among us–errors I share and labor continually to repair.