In the last post, we saw that the Word of Christ is "easy."
Now we're going to look at how the Word of Christ is "pleasing."
We all know the magic words. "Pass the peas, please."
1. Please, verb: "to make someone feel happy or give someone pleasure."
All our life we are conditioned to please.
- What are we pleasing?
- Who are we pleasing?
- Why are we pleasing at all?!
Most importantly, what does it mean to "receive the pleasing word of God" (Jacob 3:2)? What makes the word of God "pleasing," anyway?
Let's look at Jacob's words in context:
O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.
We can see how the word of God inhabits our entire beings:
- hearts - heads - minds
The Problem of Pleasure
We can break things down into three broad categories:
1. Pleasing ourselves (hedonism)
2. Pleasing others (humanism)
3. Pleasing God (Christ-is-him)
Let's begin with the idea of pleasing ourselves ― not in a selfish way, but in the positive sense of achieving self-actualization.
I must confess the first time I watched Disney's High School Musical, I was stunned.
The message of the movie (for those of you who haven't seen it) is that you can be whoever you want to be. You-Do-You. Let your freak flag fly. Do what feels good. Be yourself. Ignore all them haters.
Get the idea?
At first blush, those seem like nice ideas! After all, we're all searching for our "authentic selves."
The movie, I think, was aiming for self-empowerment.
But the doctrine of "to thine own self be true" is not exactly what Jesus taught, was it?
He that findeth his life shall lose it:
and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Many of us ― both inside and outside of religion ― are trying to "find" ourselves. And there's nothing wrong with that, is there? I mean, what’s the problem with "finding" ourselves?
Well, the problem is what we find:
. . . we find out who we are: "natural" men and women.
What is the Natural Man, and Why is He an Enemy?
Being "natural" in this sense does not mean non-GMO, organic and grass-fed.
It means (this is scary, so brace yourself) that we "live without God in the world" (Mosiah 27:31).
Alma told his son Corianton:
All men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity;
[Notice Alma is not saying these individuals are bad people (many of them are surely good people by our standards), but that they are in "the bonds of iniquity" ― they are trapped (i.e., they cannot progress or change their nature) which leaves them in the gall of bitterness.]
they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God.
No amount of self-fulfillment and self-empowerment can change our natural selves.
I mean, without God, that high school jock who wants to sing in the school musical remains a natural man regardless of all the effort that he spends on the basketball court and on the stage.
That's the rub. After all the blood, sweat, tears, work and sacrifice and effort . . . we’ve come full circle and are still . . . natural men and women.
Is this what Jacob meant when he said, but for Christ, our "captive spirits" remain in "hell" (2 Nephi 9:12)? Are we in fact in hell?
Well, what is hell but being "without God?"
Without God, how can we change our eternal nature?
In the end, no matter how much kayaking, traveling, eat-pray-love-ing, self-discovery, mountain biking, and touch-our-inner-selfing we do . . . we will never "find" ourselves until we lose ourselves.
Because we were never supposed to find ourselves:
We were supposed to find God.
. . . in our next post we'll discuss pleasing others.