It occurs to me as I write these posts that sometimes it requires a long climb (by which I mean, a ton of words) to reach the sunset at the summit (by which I mean, the climactic conclusion).
I guess it's because of all the background needed for the conclusion to make sense (to those of you who aren't in my head).
So today I am going to flip it around and begin with the conclusion (for what it's worth):
1.What is the essence of the gospel of Christ?
2.Why is love the highest law?
3. What does it mean to "know" God and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent?
Conclusion: The primary way we come to know God is by discovering Him in each other. See? I knew it would make so sense.
So let's start at the beginning . . .
As a community of believers, we don't always get along. (Aren't there people who just . . . rub you the wrong way?)
Well, we've got to accept this simple fact:
Righteousness is relative.
Okay, before you accuse me of heresy, I need to explain what I mean.
I mean what Paul meant when he wrote his epistle to the Romans in Chapter 14, describing the way that the body of Christ could be "one" even if they didn't share the same standards.
Huh? How would that be possible?
In order to answer that question, we need to first say a few things about epistemology.
Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge. How do we acquire knowledge? What are the limits of our knowledge?
Epistemology digs into the question, "How do we know what we know?"
Oh Say, What is Knowledge?
What color are those mountains in the picture?
1. How Do We "Know" Facts?
How do we know something is true? How do we know if something is fact?
Take the color blue. How do we know blue is blue?
Well, someone once upon a time told us what blue is. It was probably our parents. They lined us up as preschoolers and pointed to the sky. "Blue. Blue. Sky. Blue."
As we grew older, we confirmed our understanding of "blue" to be generally acceptable. Because if we called the sky "green," an adult would correct us.
But let's say a tyrant hated the color blue. And he commanded his people to call the color "blue" something else. Fripple. Yes, that lake is a beautiful shade of fripple.
Now we see an interesting thing: the lake is the same color, but it is no longer blue. It is a different color ― not because it has changed, but we have changed how we see it.
So are facts fixed or are they malleable? Yes!
Facts reside objectively outside of ourselves (what we could call reality from the vantage point of a Supreme Being), but our perception of reality is always subjective (internal).
Clear as mud pie?
2. How Do We Know How To Cook Bananas Foster?
Okay, "knowing" something is a lot different than knowing "how" to do something.
Have you tried cooking a recipe from a cookbook and your dish did not turn out anything like the picture in the book?
Or have you tried learning a new hobby by reading a book on it? Fly Fishing for Dummies.
How good at Fly Fishing would we be our very first time, with only what we "know" from a book to guide us?
Will we be able to feed our family with fish from all our book "knowledge?"
So there's a big difference between knowing about something, and actually knowing how to do that thing.
The thing we're interested in is how do we gain practical knowledge, or knowledge that increases our abilities?
By doing. We learn how to do something by experiential practice.
Once you've learned to ride a bike, for example, can you ever forget?
Mind AND Body
The "Spirit knoweth all things" (Alma 7:13). So why did Jesus need to come down to earth? Why did he need to suffer in Gethsemane?
Why wasn't He able to propitiate for our sins from heaven?
Why was it essential that "God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people" (Alma 7:13)?
Hmmm. Christ's anguish was not just physical but was also spiritual. The atonement encompassed both spirit AND body, where he bled from every pore.
The Point: There are some things we can only "know" with our minds AND our bodies ― but not one without the other.
A "fulness of joy," for example (see, D&C 93:33-34).
Intelligence for Dummies®
Intelligence, or the light of truth, is not about knowing "facts" or the truthfulness of propositions.
Intelligence does not reward players of Trivial Pursuit.
Intelligence, or the light of truth, is about "knowing" how to do something . . . in both spirit AND body.
I'll skip to the main point. Of all the possible things we could learn; of all the possible things we can "know"; of all the greatest and most glorious things ― the ultimate form of Intelligencethat requires both our body AND spirtis "knowing" how to be "one" with each other.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
You see, it is not enough to "know" that God loves us, as if it were simply a fact.
The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, to be "one."
3. How Do We "Know" Someone?
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
What does it mean to "know" God?
Can we back up and ask a foundational question:
What does it mean to "know" someone, period?
Take our earthly parents. Assuming we were raised by human beings and not animals (I don't know about you, but Mowgli in The Jungle Book didn't mind) how well do we really know our parents?
Well, we know a lot of things about them. We know their names and birthdates. We know what they look like. We know the sound of their voice. We know if they like anchovies on their pizza or not.
Okay, this is getting depressing. Do we really, truly, deeply, know . . . anyone?
How can we know someone completely and comprehensively if we haven't stared into their souls and seen their deepest desires and fears; if we haven't experienced their joys and sorrows; we have not unlocked the secrets buried deep within their hearts?
So how did Christ come to "know" us? And why was it necessary for Him to know us first?
We are Known (capital "K") to Him.
So how in the world am I supposed to "know" the mind and heart of . . . God?
The "Knowledge" Jesus is Trying to Teach Us
Let's start with the premise that everything God is trying to teach us (that is, our spirits AND our bodies) is howto love.
To love purely, like Him. So we can become "one" with Them.
The Pharisees, you see, held a view of God where He was "outside" and "other." To them God was external.
For the Pharisees, you had to appease God with tithes and burnt offerings and fatted calfs in order to turn away his anger, as if He were a mean Hells Angel biker-dude.
And then Jesus showed up and taught them, "No, God is not 'out there.' God is here. In me. In you. God is love" (1 John 4:8).
Hey! Who Do You Think You Are?
If that seems surprising, we just have to remember who "we" are! We are "gnolaum."
Two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.
God is eternal. And so are we.
In the King Follett discourse, Joseph Smith taught, "The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself."
How do we comprehend God? By comprehending each other . . . and ourselves.
The day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.
Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me.
God is in each of us. We get to know Him by discovering Him in each other.
When we seek and nourish the divine intelligence in each other we come to know Him.
Isn't this what Christ taught us?
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them,
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.