I want to take you back 2000 years to the 2nd Temple Period.
Picture getting dressed in your finest robes and presenting yourself to the Sanhedrin for a Temple Recommend Interview.
Sadducee Zadok: Hello Timothy ben Byron. I am glad to see you. Typically we don't let Ephraimites serve as priests, but I think we can make an exception in your case. After all, your family is well known for its generosity in supporting temple work, having donated one of the brazen oxen that holds up the molten sea of brass.
Me: Thank you, Brother Zadok.
Sadducee Zadok: Are you prepared to enter the Temple?
Me: I think so, sir.
Sadducee Zadok: Well, I shall be the judge of that. But from the size of your phylactery and the broad borders of your garments, you have certainly made a good first impression.
Me: [Blushing] I am most humbled, esteemed one.
Sadducee Zadok: Do you sustain Moses as God's mouthpiece and prophet? Me: Well, I have never met him, but sure.
Sadducee Zadok: Do you pay a full tithe of your mint, anise and cummin?
Me: Umm. I don't really cook much. I usually pick up fast food on my way home from work.
Sadducee Zadok:Do you fast twice a week?
Me: [Embarrassed] Uh. No. I guess I am not a very good Pharisee, huh?
Sadducee Zadok:When addressing your elders, do you call them "Rabbi" and include their middle initials?
Me: Always, exalted one.
Sadducee Zadok:Do you eat shrimp or pork? Me: Only with cocktail and apple sauce.
Sadducee Zadok: [Shaking his head seriously] I am sorry, my son, but you are not worthy to enter into the house of God.
Me: Really? Why not?
Sadducee Zadok: Because you swore by the gold of the Temple.
Me: [Shrugging my shoulders] Sorry. It just slipped out when I saw all that opulent wealth. I blurted, "Holy crap!"
Example 2: Temple Recommend Interview
Okay, now I want to take you back 2000 years ago to the 2nd Temple Period.
Picture being nakedand presenting yourself to the Lord for a Temple Recommend Interview.
Hold on. Actually, we aren't naked because at the last second we threw a fisher's coat around our waist.
But we're sopping wet.
Jesus: Timothy son of Byron, lovest thou me?
Me: Yea, Lord; thou knowest I love thee.
Jesus: Timothy, son of Byron, lovest thou me?
Me: Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.
Jesus: Lovest thou me?
Me: [Grieved] Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.
Jesus: [Smiling] Feed my sheep.
What's the Difference?
What is the difference between the two types of interviews?
In Example 1, our worthiness is based on our social status, appearance, and obedience to carnal commandments.
In Example 2, our worthiness depends on love. If we love the Shepherd, we will love (feed) His sheep.
Instead of focusing on the absence of sin, the Lord looks for the presence of love.
After all, aren't we all sinners?
So why make a worthiness checklist to distinguish which sinners get to go to the temple?
Let this sink in. By holding a temple recommend, we put ourselves into the shoes of the Pharisee in Christ's parable, who said (comparing himself to others):
God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Sure, we may not be extortioners or adulterers. (Good on 'ya!) Maybe that's why we are like the Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7, who harshly judged a prostitute to be "unworthy" because of her sins.
("After all," Simon must have thought, "I am a righteous man who keeps the law! Unlike this fallen woman.")
As she washed Jesus's feet at supper with her tears, Jesus said:
Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.
Are we seeing a pattern? Jesus does not focus on our sinfulness; He focuses on our love for Him!
As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, " 'Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.' We must recognize that we are all imperfect — that we are beggars before God." ("The Merciful Obtain Mercy," April 2012 General Conference)