This past weekend I returned from a business trip and found our house brimming with Peeps and chocolate eggs. My 6 year old son said to me:
Son: "Daddy, why do we go to Church on Easter?"
Me: "Well, that's sorta the point."
Son: "But it's a holiday!"
Where Did I Go Wrong?
Have you ever been led astray by GPS (or Siri)?
Let's say you're driving to a friend's house for a BBQ and you are obediently following the directions:
1. In 400 feet, turn left. 2. Stay in the right lane. 3. At the traffic light, turn right. 4. Your destination is on your left.
Ummm. You look around and find yourself in the middle of an industrial park.
So we grab our GPS and double check the address we entered.
Oh no! Siri transposed the east/north coordinates.
We were so busy following directions, we forgot to look where we were going!
A Straight Line in 3 and 4 Dimensions
When we think of a straight line, we probably imagine a line drawn between Point A and Point B.
That's a two-dimensional depiction of a straight line. But the Strait and Narrow Path is NOT two-dimensional, and NEITHER ARE WE.
Pretend for a moment that we are infinite, eternal beings. We have always existed, growing and developing and progressing through the gospel of our Father.
Now imagine yourself in relation to your Father.
DO NOT suppose there's an imaginary gulf between you and Him, as though He was at one end of a long string and you are down the line from Him, less advanced and less perfect.
Instead, imagine God at the center of a cone, or an upside down pyramid. This Cone represents all creation. All existence flows towards Him, who sits in the bosom of eternity.
Now, don't think of God at the top of the cone, but rather picture Him at the bottom. Think of a spiral; think of water pooling down a drain; think of the swirling chaos of matter endlessly traveling in one eternal round.
Okay, now imagine that we are traveling along the circumference of the cone, as if on a wheel, the way the earth orbits the sun.
If we're at the top of the cone, wouldn't it be nice to drop a straight line through the center of the spiral so we could travel the shortest distance?
Picture that "shortest distance" that bisects the cone as "a pillar of fire."
Good so far? If you're a geometry buff (I am not, forgive me), then you know that I am talking about a Geodesic.
All of you astrophysicists know that geodesics are critically important to General Relativity, where a "straight line" is formed in the curvature of spacetime.
And if you're studying for A.P. college credit, you probably know that a photon, or light, is mass-less (called "null").
Are we having fun? If so, read on.
Now, picture space-time as an hourglass. Pretend that it can be turned upside down, so what was up is now down (I mean, in space, there is no up or down, is there?).
But in flipping space upside down, we also rotate time.
Scientists and philosophers have not been able to figure out the paradoxes that are created by backwards causation. Everything we know says it is impossible.
But then, so was the atonement. And yet . . .
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come.
Lesser and Higher Laws
The point of this is to say that there are laws ordained for each level/rung of the spiral.
The lesser laws are those which are at the top (or bottom, as the case may be) of the cone, which encompass the largest diameter and circumference.
Here's the problem: there are no bridges connecting the two sides of the cylinder. You can't traverse from one side to the other in a straight line.
Instead, we have to travel along the circumference.
By way of example, if I want to travel from the United States to China, I CANNOT go in a straight line through the center of the earth.
Instead, I hop on an airplane and traverse the surface of the globe.
The airplane will not go from Point A to Point B in a straight line, either, because it is shorter (and saves on fuel) to take advantage of the curvature of the earth to fly in an arc.
Here's where it gets complicated: because we are multifaceted, eternal beings, we do not exist in a singular point on the spiral.
In some areas, we are spiritually advanced, and in others, we are woefully weak.
So it is problematic to think of truth as an elevator, with God at the top (Penthouse suite) and us on various levels or floors below, because that is thinking linearly.
Truth is not linear.
Time is not linear.
Which 'You' Does God Judge?
Question: What does it mean to "endure to the end" when there is no ending? When we are end-less?
Here's an experiment: pretend each person's life is unspooled in a linear line. You can see yourself at age 8 becoming accountable. There you are at 19 on a mission to New Guinea. At 25 getting married. Now you're dead at 78.
If your righteousness at time of death (TOD) was the most important thing, then God (knowing the end from the beginning) could just take us at the moment we reach the pinnacle of the amount of righteousness we're gonna achieve in this life.
For example, let's pretend that the most righteous I will ever be is when I am 20-year old virgin serving a mission, immersed in daily scripture study and prayer, filled with real intent.
After that, the following 50 years are a real disappointment for the Lord, who watches me slide downhill and sin all over the place.
Am I judged for who I was at 20? At 70? Do we average the two and find the mean?
The Plot Thickens
The thought experiment, above, addresses the problem of linear time.
But spiritually, we exist outside of time.
If you don't think that "time" is important, just appreciate the fact that Alma uses the word 20 times in Chapter 40.
All is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.
In fact, time as we understand it is a condition of a telestial kingdom.
The seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer.
Not to belabor the point, but the absence of time will be one of the distinguishing characteristics of the New Earth.
We're gonna sing this new song:
The Lord hath redeemed his people; And Satan is bound and time is no longer. The Lord hath gathered all things in one. The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.
What Does This Have to Do With "Truth?"
Hopefully we've seen that all laws coexist at all times because law is not linear.
Here on the earth, today, you can be living a telestial law of finance, with a terrestrial marriage, and a celestial law of sacrifice all at once.
In other words, kingdoms are not separated by space geographically, nor by time, but by the law that governs in the particular spacetime.
All kingdoms have a law given;
And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.
All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.
Right this very minute, we can choose to abide the conditions of a celestial, terrestial, or telestial law.
If you've read this Blog to any extent, you know that one of the main themes I write about is discerning between lesser and greater laws.
I didn't set out to do that. But over the years I became baffled at members and leaders in the Church championing dead, lesser laws (as if those laws were the coolest, or had the power to save us).
In other words, when we have the option of living celestial laws, why do we get so excited about living telestial ones?
So let's take just a second and summarize some of the problems with obeying lesser laws.
1. Lesser Laws Cannot Exalt.
A lesser law cannot produce the fruits of the gospel. Isn't this why we live in constant cognitive dissonance? We are victims of self-deception who follow a lesser law and expect celestial blessings.
Think of the Law of the Harvest. We cannot plant a tomato seed and harvest a giraffe. 2. Lesser laws consume our spiritual energy.
One of the problems we all face is limited time and resources. When we divert our labor away from the higher law and keep ourselves busy with keeping the lesser laws, we halt our progress.
As the saying goes about running a rat race: even if we win, we're still rats!
Lesser laws stunt our spiritual growth by putting us on the treadmill of legalistic obedience, which ultimately ends up hardening our hearts.
As we cleave to lesser laws (like the Jews in Jesus's day), we become content and stop seeking. They numb our appetites until we stop hungering for Christ.
After all (to paraphrase Nephi), "A law! a law! We have a law, and we need no higher law!" 3. Lesser laws create systemic self-righteousness.
If you think about it, lesser laws are inherently Anti-Christ because they are predicated on something other than Christ (a false substitute).
Let's say, for example, our religion is predicated on being "temple worthy." Then satisfying the requirements for a temple recommend replaces becoming a child of Christ.
Really. It is that serious.
While staying on the "covenant path," we go through the motions without ever partaking of the fruit of the tree of life.
4. Lesser laws are always less loving, more legalistic, and more controlling and authoritarian.
Lesser laws are paternalistic. The law is used to keep members "in line" and to color "inside the box," instead of liberating our souls from the chains of darkness.
We find that Churches built upon lesser laws become more sectarian; more -ites; more stratification between lay members and leadership; more concerned with forms over substance, style over spirit.