I went to Elders Quorum on Sunday. I honestly keep going expecting, as if by miracle, that the Church has decided to discard the Handbook in favor of practicing, by the power of the Holy Ghost, pure religion.
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I think things will change; that we'll live up to the noblest ideals and teachings of the Restoration?
It's like when Alma stepped down from the Judgment Seat because he just couldn't take the insanity anymore.
That he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.
If anything I have said on this blog seems harsh, I suspect Alma would not mince words as I have.
Alma the Reclaimer
Alma spearheaded a mission to reclaim the Zoramites who "did pervert the ways of the Lord in many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them" (Alma 31:11).
I wish Alma had been at my Church on Sunday. Maybe he could have said something, done something.
Because the word of God is a rare thing to hear in Church these days.
But I fear that if Alma had attended my ward on Sunday, he would have received as warm a welcome as he did among the Zoramites.
Korihor the Reclaimer
Contrast Alma's example with Korihor, who also sincerely thought he was reclaiming a people gone astray.
In Chapter 30 of Alma, we read about Korihor's plan to reclaim the Nephites. Here is what he preached:
1. A gospel of works ("man fared in this life according to the management of the creature" v. 17)
2. A prosperity gospel ("man prospered according to his genius" v. 17)
3. A gospel that didn't need Christ ("Why do ye look for a Christ?" v. 13)
I mean, who needs Christ when we have our star varsity quarterback-prophet?
Sure, I bet Christ has no problem being the Water Boy (He is, after all, the Living Water), but the thing is . . . we really need him on the field!
So why have we allowed our coaches to bench Him in the final quarter, watching the disastrous results of their playbook?
In this metaphor I am pointing out that, sure, we all like to think Christ is on our team. But in practice, does the Church treat Him more as our mascot than our Messiah?
Korihor received his commission from the devil (presenting as an angel of light), who told him:
Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; [maybe this should have tipped his hand?] yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind.
So what did Korihor teach that was so "pleasing unto the carnal mind?"
Simple: carnal security.
And others will the devil pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well-- and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
(2 Nephi 28:21)
When I attend Church and listen to the doctrines of Korihor and Nehor being preached from the lesson manual and from the pulpit with confidence, I know we're in trouble.
You would expect, I'm sure, the lesson to focus on being valiant disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Pretty basic, right? Oh no. All (!) of the discussion and comments centered on being valiant disciples of the prophet. The lesson steered toward (as it invariably does in my neck-of-the-woods) obedience to Church leaders.
Notice the two key terms in the title of the talk:
Speaking of those who inherit a Terrestial glory, "These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus" (D&C 76:79).
The Savior told us, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).
It's a bit of deja vu to read in the New Testament the exchange between a disciple of Jesus Christ and the Pharisees:
[The blind man who was healed by Christ] answereth them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear wherefore, would ye hear it again? [he's sarcastically calling them deaf] Will ye also be his [Christ's] disciples?
Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.
I often scratch my head in Church. "Wait, whose disciples are we?"
Are we disciples of Jesus Christ ― who are known by the love we have one for another ― or are we disciples of the Brethren?
Where I Step In It
Towards the end of the lesson, I made a comment.
"Isn't it interesting," I said, "that we've framed this whole discussion about our discipleship around the issue of authority, whenChrist himself taught that the sign of our discipleship is love."
Paul Toscano said:
"When you see [the apostles] all arrayed in white, standing beneath a white Christus statue, it should make us shudder, because, what does that mean? What is that symbolizing? Love does not manifest itself by separating yourself and dressing in white and standing in front of the Christus statue. It’s picking up the phone and calling Paul Toscano in 1992 and saying, “Paul, what are you talking about? We don’t want you outside the church. Come on up. Talk to us.” But Boyd Packer wouldn’t do that because Boyd Packer never understood the difference between the church and the Air Force. . . .
"Bruce McConkie taught the saints that obedience is the first law of heaven. Obedience is the first law of hell!"
Why do we exalt authority over love? Why do we exalt the prophet above Christ?
We are a loveless people because we have been taught to love authority.
I concluded my comment in Elder's Quorum:
"O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, and declare to the Church, all 17-million-strong, that divine authority only arises from mutual love ― from pure love unfeigned ― and that authority is merely the bonds of love. There is no authority other than that found in love. Anytime we exercise authority in the absence of love, we show we have none."
The scriptures call it "unrighteous dominion."
A Witness and a Warning
As I sat in Elders Quorum, the words I had read earlier that morning came to mind:
Wo unto this great city, for I perceive, saith the Lord, that there are many, yea, even the more part of this great city, that will harden their hearts against me, saith the Lord.
Notice that Samuel the Lamanite repeats twice that he is quoting "thus saith the Lord." He wants it to be clear who is talking.
I wouldn't be surprised if Samuel were talking to very faithful, religious Nephites, who go to the synagogue each Sabbath and who follow the Rabbis.
But notice who they've hardened their hearts against: they "harden their hearts against me, saith the Lord."
I realized how hard our hearts have become in the Church.
Listening to my friends and neighbors, whom I love and with whom I have labored for many years, I could not help but notice a kind of "group think" ― a kind of conditioning in which we say things, almost as if we're reading lines from some common script.
A member of stake leadership lamented those people who lack enough faith to follow the prophet (he mentioned specifically vaccinations and LGBTQ issues), equating our lock-step with the prophet's current position as the best indication of our worthiness.
As I've commented before, this is not the same Church my mother joined when she was 20 years old, over 50 years ago, when President David O. McKay was prophet.
Since then the Church has radically changed. In fact, I would argue it's been radicalized. In the last generation, the Church has radicalized us into becoming acolytes of the PROPHET.
What an incredible cultural and spiritual revolution it has been.
Meanwhile, the Church is casting aside and excommunicating those men and women who call upon us by the power of the Holy Ghost to repent and to turn unto the LORD (not the prophet).
This is all a bizarre repeat of Catholicism's reaction 500 years ago to Martin Luther and the other Reformers whom they wished to silence.
Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them.
The nodding heads and grunts of agreement among my brothers in Elder's Quorum reflected how we've fallen victim to the demonic spirit of authority. When we are under that spirit, we become like the Zoramites who thank God we are better than those poor souls over there, in the false confidence that comes from being "in the right."
If I could summarize the spell that has mesmerized the membership and put us to sleep, which has cursed the Church for the past 50 years, under whose weight the entire gospel of our Lord crumbles, it is this:
** Follow the man we call prophet, and you'll be fine. **
What an odd gospel message we now preach, isn't it?
As the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
Well, if following the prophet was the condition upon which exaltation rested, why do we need Christ?
What good is a Savior if he's merely decoration for the walls in our meetinghouses?
If our obedience to the prophet is the ice cream in our banana split, then we can get by without the nice-to-have-but-not-essential cherry on top, right?
Like the Zoramites, we can proudly declare:
O God, we thank thee [for a prophet]; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led [astray] [by the] Brethren, [and that there is no need for] a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from [the prophet] [called by] our God.
But as I reflected on their comments, sitting on those hard folding chairs in the cultural hall, I knew these were good men, whose hearts are sincere.
So how is it that our hierarchical system has so effectively compromised our best instincts?
I wondered, how do we desensitize ourselves from decades of doublespeak?
The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.
(George Orwell, 1984)
Is there any hope the Church will repent and be reclaimed? Will we return to the Lord?
Or has the cancer progressed so far that now it is merely a matter of keeping the patient comfortable before the inevitable end?
O how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?
Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you.
And as I prayed for grace to be granted toward this little corner of the vineyard where the Lord has seen fit to plant me and my friends, that perhaps we might turn again to Him and repent of our idolatry and blindness, I could not forget the words of Samuel who prophesied:
But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure.
Destruction made sure? Is that like the opposite of having our calling and election made sure?
How does this bode for the corporate "covenant path?"
(Example: “If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing." (Ensign, December 2012)
(2nd Example: "Bishop Caussé said . . . when people cannot afford to pay tithing and buy food, they are counseled to pay tithing and let the Church help them with food." (Church News, Feb. 14, 2020)
d."Forsaken the right way and are gone astray" (2:15)
When we are thirsty, dying of dehydration (spiritually speaking), we go to a well to find relief.
A well is a source of clean, pure drinking water.
But what a terrible tease! Imagine a well, sitting right there, pretending to be a source of life-giving water, when in fact it is empty.
We draw up the bucket and find only dust.
Notice that this well Peter describes is not just dirty, filled with dead flies floating on top, in the hopes we can filter the water and make it potable. No, the well is dried up.
Look! There are throngs of people thirsting after righteousness, lining up at the well, only to find . . . nothing.
False prophets, you see, offer truth that cannot quench our thirst; they pretend to be a source of life-giving light but their buckets run dry.
One of the reasons people are leaving the Church is because we have administrative Prophets, Seers, and Revelators who possess the title but not the gifts.
As I heard someone once remark, "So what are we paying these guys for?!"
#9. "Like foxes in the desert"
Now let's see why Ezekiel says false prophets are like "foxes in the deseret." Excuse me, I meant, "foxes in the desert."
O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.
Ye have NOT gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord.
Notice (in the picture above) that desert foxes have huge ears. It is like they're signaling to others, "I have great hearing!"
False prophets want us to believe they hear the voice of God, so they make a big pretense of themselves, marking their territory with urine as foxes.
We all know that foxes are sly creatures, but did you know that desert foxes are nocturnal? They can't stand the heat of the day.
Maybe this is what Ezekiel is alluding to when he condemns these pretenders who "have NOT gone up into the gaps."
What Does it Mean to "Go up into the Gap?"
In battle, when there is a breach in the wall of your city, you send your best soldiers to stop the invaders from entering through the gap.
These mighty, brave men and women stand in the gap (where it is unsafe and they are vulnerable to the enemies' arrows), using their bodies as shields, willing to die in order to protect the vulnerable and powerless behind the walls.
Contrast these soldiers in Christ's army with those who recline in the castle keep, the kings and lords who let others do the hard labor and dangerous work.
I think Ezekiel is saying to the leaders of his time, "In our hour of greatest spiritual peril, you were busy flogging your critics in the dungeon while the walls were breached and the enemy was at the gates; you cast out and slew our best men and women who warned you of the danger, insisting "all is well, yea, all is well in Zion."
Foxes in the desert live by "rules for thee but not for me," eschewing the Savior's call to leave their nets and become fishers of men; to leave their fishing enterprises behind and to feed His sheep without purse or scrip or worldly entanglement.
I guess being a billionaire fisherman really is the best of all worlds!
Even though I am using modern examples, I do not wish to criticize anyone for being imperfect or human. I am a jumble of contradictions and shortcomings and consider myself chief among sinners.
As I did in my post about Brigham Young, I am trying to highlight ways we can become better in the hope we will repent and reform our doctrines and practices to better reflect the Lord's law and His gospel.
We expect a lot of ourselves. Why not expect better from our leaders?
As I wrote in my poem, Beware, I don't doubt the sincerity of the Brethren.
I believe they're doing what they think is best, though I am frequently stymied on why they've chosen this course: one in which the membership is required to be dependent upon their leadership rather than becoming spiritually self-reliant upon the Lord.
If we came to earth to learn to become like God, then why do the Brethren infantilize the faith? Why nurse us with the milk of carnal security instead of nourishing us with the beef-and-potatoes of Christ's holy word?
Anyway, this is why I try to focus on the issues and not the people.
False prophets believe, pretenders are sincere─
The best way to deceive is to make it your career.
Nabi: [Chuckling] Nah, he was from the lower kingdom. I am from Beth-el. So he came into my kingdom, alright, and he healed the shriveled hand of King Jeroboam―
Bachelorette: What gall!
Nabi: Right? Traipsing onto my home turf and performing miracles right under my nose! So I told my sons to saddle my ass and I rode out to meet this other prophet and I invited him to my house to eat bread with me.
Bachelorette: How nice of you. I like a good party.
Nabi: Well, this young whippersnapper told me, if you can believe it:
I may not return with thee. . . For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
(1 Kings 13:16-17)
Bachelorette: But you're the prophet! He was under your authority and jurisdiction, surely?
Nabi: Absolutely. Young people don't know their place these days. So I told him:
I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water.
(1 Kings 13:18)
Bachelorette: And was it true? Did an angel tell you that?
Nabi: [Shaking his head] No, I lied. But I was testing him, you see. I was testing whether he'd follow the word of the Lord that had come to him, or follow another prophet.
Bachelorette: And so what did the man from Judah do?
Nabi: He chose . . . poorly. He believed me. He came to my house and I fed him dinner.
Bachelorette: Well, no harm no foul. I am sure it was a good lesson.
Nabi: Umm. After he left, a lion met him on the road and ate him (1 Kings 13:24) because he disobeyed his personal revelation.
Bachelorette: So, the joke was on him, I guess.
Bachelor No. 3: Balaam
Bachelorette: Do you have any hobbies, sugar?
Balaam: I like horseback riding and touring the countryside on my donkey.
Bachelorette: All those stables must be expensive. Are you rich?
Balaam: Yes. You can tell a prophet is good at his job by his lifestyle. You have to make religion look profitable or no one will bother with it. Everybody these days wants taller temples; grandiose concerts; bloated bureaucratic budgets; creepy committees that strengthen church members by spying on them and keeping private dossiers on them ― these are the things that make religion attractive.
Bachelorette: You know what I find attractive? All that money you have.
Balaam: Yes, there are a lot of perks. Being a prophet isn't bad, really: I get to rub shoulders with King Balak, I get a generous living allowance with an unlimited line of credit on my credit cards; and then there are all the honorary doctorates and my golden temple recommend that never expires.
Bachelorette: But how can you afford all that?!
Balaam: Well, remember how Christ called Matthew, a tax collector, to the ministry? I like to think that I am following suit, as a tithe collector, to pimp out the Lord's kingdom.
Bachelorette: How noble of you! You must have left a lucrative career to enter into the service of the Lord like this.
Balaam: Oh yes, but it can be tiring, at times, touring the globe and giving all those speeches, disbursing other peoples' money to charities, overseeing thousands of employees, and making sure the professors at my universities tow-the-line. It takes a lot of hard work, overseeing a billion dollar multi-national corporation.
Bachelorette: You sound like a celebrity, like Bill Gates! Do you know the Kardashians?
Balaam: I get around. For example, I know an angel with a flaming sword.
Bachelorette: Ooh, do you think you could introduce me to him?
Balaam: Well, he called me "perverse" and stiff-necked, and in fact he wanted me dead, so we're not on speaking terms (Numbers 22:32-33).
Bachelorette: [Looking pouty]. Too bad.
Balaam: But my ass ― now there's an excellent conversationalist!
Join us next time for Wheel of Fortune: Prophet Edition!
Sorry for my prolonged absence as I recovered from surgery.
Thank you for your prayers, faith, and well-wishes. I am more grateful than you'll ever know.
My surgery went well. When they wheeled me into the operating room my first thought was, "Why are there so many people?" I learned afterwards that the doctors had invited their colleagues to witness this "once in a lifetime" procedure.
(Had I brought popcorn, I might have charged admission.)
My dear wife sat by my side as I awoke from the anesthesia, offering me the straw to a Diet Coke (which brought tears to my eyes: that is true love).
I've been drinking milkshakes and eating pudding on a "liquid diet." My wife and I disagree on what constitutes a "liquid." After all, basic chemistry taught me that all solids turn into liquid if you heat them hot enough ― like meatloaf.
As I have been healing at home during my sick leave, sitting on the back patio and watching the lawn grow as tall as a teenage boy's mullet (I can't mow the grass because the doctors proscribed any physical activity), admiring the hummingbirds circling our Roses of Sharon with effortless grace, I have been pondering what I want to do with my new lease on life.
With my head screwed back on, what now?
The Truth About Love
I want to present an idea and maybe (who knows) a slightly different way of viewing the atonement (please leave a comment on what ideas came to you after you've read this.)
Truth is not absolute in the sense that truth itself changes when, and if, the nature of reality changes (when "what is" becomes different from "what is now").
If we view truth from a static perspective, we could pretend to freeze-in-place all the truths pertaining to a Celestial, Terrestial, and Telestial orders ― and then we could catalogue them and create a concordance of all the truths and where they belong.
And carrying our Truth Textbooks like good students on a field trip, we could ascend each order (or "kingdom") (what I am calling "reality"), taking notes in our books to create a Master Taxonomy of Truth.
We'll see that what is true in one kingdom does not always hold for another.
For example, the reality of the Celestial Kingdom is to have a "fulness of the Father" but in the Terrestial Kingdom they "receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father" (D&C 76:77).
See? Different realities. Separate truths.
But, as the inquisitive teacher's pets we are, we'll go the extra mile at the end of our books and pause, asking the million-dollar question:
Are there truths above the Celestial?
How Well Do We Know the Celestial Kingdom?
The problem we face, of course, is what happens when we reach the ceiling?
Can the truths of the Celestial Kingdom ever change?
Do we harbor the notion that the Celestial Kingdom is always the same, and always will be? Where nothing ever changes, worlds without end?
Is the Celestial Kingdom a tundra of frozen, unthawing truths?
I mean, sure, from our vantage point here in the bowels of hell (pardon me, I meant to say "telestial kingdom"), where Satan dances a merry polka nightly on the Lawrence this-world-is-a-Wreck Show, the truths of the celestial kingdom may appear unchanging the way something very far away appears to not move even though it is rotating 1,000 mph . . .
. . . but. But, those who inherit the Celestial Kingdom will receive a "white stone"
whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known.
You might say, "Well, maybe there are kingdoms above the celestial."
Okay, sure. But could we read this verse instead to mean that the Celestial Kingdom itself becomes elevated to a "higher order" as its inhabitants progress?
Can even celestial truth be dynamic?
Now the SUPER Tricky Part:
Good. You're still here. Here's the important part:
This is why Christ is called the Way, the Truth, and the Life― because He was not content to let "what is" remain the same. He changed truth by creating a new reality.
While we read that God is unchanging, we also know that the Father decided to change (elevate) (exalt) the nature of what "was" for you and me by condescending to earth in order to bring about a reality that could not exist but for His marvelous sacrifice.
In other words, Christ is the Truth because the kingdom we inhabit ("what is") did not, and could not exist, without His unique creative work.
Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ.
This we call the Good News.
From the midst of chaotic element, the Father dreamt a dream in which we could progress and experience joy with Him, in Him.
But there was no path for it, no way for it.
Luckily, He had a Plan.
And there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it.
Christ is called the Creator of heaven and earth because the truth we experience is the express creation of our Lord and Savior.
He authored our truth, our salvation, through His faith.
He not only showed us a more excellent way, but He created a reality in which we were capable of walking it.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
In the King Follett Discourse, Joseph Smith said:
"In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of being we have got to worship."
The reason this is important is because many of us have an idea that Christ was simply replaying a role as in previous cycles of creation, following the same predictable script, and that it was all inevitable.
Apply. Rinse. Repeat.
But if we think that Christ is plug-and-play, then we haven't yet glimpsed the glory of His truly unique Intelligence.
He did, and is, and will always be, creating a new heaven, and a new earth for his Children.
Now Here's the Really, Really Tricky Part:
While it is true, as Joseph Smith taught, that our intelligences are co-eternal with God, we lacked the godlike ability to act.
We lacked a fulness of agency in our limited spiritual state.
In order to become co-creators with the Father and the Son, through which we experience a fulness of joy, we required tabernacles.
And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon.
(2 Nephi 2:13)
Enter Satan, who was brilliant.
(I don't think he gets enough credit.)
All action (creation) requires faith (will) and the ability to act (agency).
Now, Satan was an angel in authority in the presence of God. He had faith, too. He had a plan.
Not a bad plan, actually.
In the Lectures on Faith, Lecture 1, we read this:
Faith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen; and the principle of action in all intelligent beings.
Just like God, Lucifer works by faith. In this instance, Lucifer used his agency (intelligence) to imagine a creation, a world, that had never been before.
He knew that creation is never static; he had beheld God instantiating realities that were new.
Satan went to work. He was a good student. He believed he could create a reality in which none would be lost.
Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed.
Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them?
Satan's "truth" was to save all of us. Can anyone fault him for that?
Lucifer made it sound plausible. A third-part of the hosts of heaven were willing to go along with his plan, unable to discern the subtlety of the problem.
So why did Lucifer get in trouble? Why was his faith faulty? Why was he unable to create a reality in which we were all saved?
Why was his plan doomed to fail?
A New Reality of Love
We know that "all truth is independent" (D&C 93:30).
But love is never independent.
Love is always relational.
Christ created a reality for us in which He loved the Father perfectly, purely. He became a Son so that love might flourish and thrive through their Union.
Christ declared the purpose of his mission and condescension:
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.
The truth of the gospel is a product (creation) of Their relationship. It is glorious.
Satan, too, desired to be a son.
That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son . . .
So far so good. This is, in fact, the appropriate response. So where did it fly off the rails for Lucifer?
. . . and I will redeem all mankind . . .
Who doesn't like the sound of that? Redemption was Christ's mission, after all.
. . . that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
Isaiah gives an interesting glimpse at this celestial drama in his proverb against the king of Babylon (fittingly):
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
I can see Lucifer standing up in Stake Conference: "I bring you the love of the Heavenly Presidency" ― like a high councilor who tells us how much the Stake Presidency loves us.
What the high councilor means is, "The members of the Stake Presidency are men of good will, and so you have their good will."
But if the Stake President doesn't know me personally, then an unindividualized benevolence is not the same as loving me.
Because how can we love someone we do not know?
Christ knows us because he created us. That means he can really love us.
For it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.
For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.
So, the only way to know whether we love Christ or not is to get to know him, quirks and all.
Being a Christian of "good will" does not mean we love the Man. The test is whether we love him enough to be in a relationship.
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
(1 John 4:12, 16)
He's already chosen us. Now we get to choose him.
Wait, before you go, just one more thing . . .
What Does it Mean to "Hope in Christ?"
We've talked about faith and love, but what about hope?
Like a middle child, hope is often neglected between its sisters.
And what is it that ye shall hope for?
Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
Let us hope in Christ that we may, together, create a brighter reality with Him as our Evening and Morning Star.