In this Series, Give Heed to This Compass, we're talking about something near and dear to my heart: following the light of Christ into the presence of the Lord, and piercing the veil so we can converse with Him who is the Keeper of the Gate, like the Brother of Jared did, and receive the words of eternal life in this world (what the scriptures call the "testimony of Jesus").
Wow. That's A LOT, I know.
But this is going to be super simple.
Forget about all the commandments and covenants and everything else for just a sec. (Don't worry, they'll still be here when we get back.)
But I want to start with a clean slate. Pretend we're little, ignorant children. (Aren't we?) Because here's the problem: we've been weaned on the milk of religion, and religion always complicates our relationship with God.
Whereas, the gospel of Jesus Christ couldn't be simpler: God is our father and invites us to "be one" with him, asking us to love him and one another.
God told Enoch:
And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they: (1) should love one another, and (2) that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection.
Religion, now . . . oh boy!
Religion goes to great lengths to build hedges around the law, cluttering our faith with errata ― with incense and shewbread and priests and performances and phylacteries and handbooks and reports and attendance and assignments and titles and trainings and handcarts and tithing and . . . the list is endless.
I mean, how are we supposed to know God when he is buried underneath so much "religion?"
Our Father all but disappears under the weight of the churches we've built up.
Keeping Up with the Joneses
Religion loves lists more than it loves God, attending to all the busy work while leaving the weightier matters undone.
Now, don't get me wrong: I am all for baking casseroles and helping Sister Jones clean out her gutters. After all, pure religion (that is, the religion that most closely resembles the gospel) is to visit the fatherless and care for the widow . . .
. . . and to keep yourself unspotted from the world.
Ah, that last part is where religion really flexes its muscles, right? Religion to the rescue, giving us lists of rights and wrongs, do's and dont's, yes's and no's.
Well, in the end, who needs God when we've got such great Lists? After all, can't the List tell us everything we need to know in order to get into heaven?
Unfortunately, we all discover at some point in our lives (and, as Paul pointed out 2000 years ago) that we all fall short and can't do everything on the List; in the eyes of religion (in other words, the "law" as Paul called it), we're all damned.
But then Christ comes along and provides a more excellent way, telling us that we can know God (!) ― the only true and living God (!!) through Jesus Christ, whom He sent (!!!) ― but not through the List.
Lecture At the Veil
Do you remember what happened to the veil in the temple when Jesus died on the cross?
As what I can only presume to be one of the greatest and astounding indictments God ever made (without words, no less, which is fitting since they had just killed the Word of God), God destroyed the veil.
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
The "top to the bottom" reminds me of a hierarchy. Was God symbolizing that we no longer needed a religious hierarchy when we had a new High Priest (Christ) to make intercession for us?
In Hebrews 10:19-21, we are told some very interesting things about the veil:
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy of holies . . .
This was how we "used" to approach God under the Law of Moses. Well, not you and me, of course. We had to rely on mortal mediators. It was the High Priest of the Levitical priesthood who entered into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement, where the cherubim and the ark of the covenant represented the presence of God, where the priest sought forgiveness for the sins of the people.
And notice that we are told to enter into God's presence "boldly." Not proudly, neither timidly, but with the confidence that comes from loving Him.
But the part I love best is that we are all supposed to cram into the Holy of Holies (make space!) instead of pawning this off on our leaders, like the Israelites did with Moses, telling him, "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die" (Exodus 20:19).
by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way,
Then Jesus came and changed everything. "We're not doing things that way anymore. I am going to show you a 'new and living way,' a new covenant," he says. Instead of a curtain that was red and blue and purple (yes, those really were the colors of the veil), we have the red and blue and purple blood that runs in the veins of Christ. In other words, we replaced Veils with Veins.
which Christ hath consecrated for us,
Remember what it means to "consecrate?" It means to be set apart, to be made holy. Here, Christ consecrates us in His sacral blood. I mean, it says it right there "for us!"
through the veil, that is to say, his flesh
Okay, this is amazing. The veil the Jewish high priest had to part and cross through in order to enter into God's presence, is now defined as Christ's body ("his flesh"). Imagine what this symbolizes. Rebirth, being born again? We come forth in Christ's mother-blood, through "his flesh" ― just like when we were born. It's beautiful!
Having an high priest over the house of God.
Let me make something as plain as I possibly can:
1. There is only one Gate (repent and be baptized) (2 Nephi 31:17).
2. There is only one Great Commandment to the ends of the earth (repent and be baptized) (3 Nephi 27:20).
3.There is only one Great Commission (repent and be baptized) (Matthew 28:19).
4.And there is only one Gate-keeper (Christ) (2 Nephi 9:41).
See? All things lead to a single choke-point, like an hourglass, which is baptism.
After we are baptized, then things expand outward again as the Spirit directs us individually.
If God rent the veil of the temple in order to invite us directly into His presence, why are we trying to patch it back together?