Some of you may be Noble and Great Ones. (If so, you may skip ahead.)
Keep the Faith
Those of you trying to fight the good fight and keep your heads up, welcome to the club. At least we find ourselves in good company: people like the apostle Paul and the high priest Nephi struggled, too:
O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support. He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of myflesh.
Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin.
(2 Nephi 4:17-21, 28) Paul:
I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
It is no small task we face: how do we live a Celestial Law (the Law of Love, as summarized in the Sermon on the Mount) in a Telestial Kingdom?
There is much we do not know, and much of what we believe we do not fully understand. But here are a couple of things I believe with all my heart, which encourages me. Here is what I want to share with all of you beloved Owls:
1. We chose to come to this telestial kingdom.
We were not sent here as punishment.
We were not sent here against our will.
We chose to be here because we sought what this Kingdom had to offer. (And what is that?)
And let's not forget -- even a Telestial Kingdom is still a Kingdom of Glory!
2. So why did we choose to come here?
We came to this kingdom to increase our capacity to love.
I mean, where better to learn how to love fearlessly?
C.S. Lewis wrote that when we are filled with divine love, we find a way to love those who are "not naturally lovable; lepers, criminals, enemies, morons, the sulky, the superior and the sneering." (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, London: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1960, 128.)
Guess how many lepers we'll find in heaven? None.
On earth we have eight billion.
We are at the epicenter of the worst outbreak of spiritual leprosy in the universe. That's a lot of loving to do.
Sure, it requires us to love outside of our comfort zones.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18)
(Giuseppe Maria Crespi (1665-1747), St. Francis Heals a Leper)
Saint Francis of Assisi
In his Testament, Saint Francis wrote, “When I was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God himself led me into their company, and I had pity on them. When I became acquainted with them, what had previously nauseated me became the source of spiritual and physical consolation for me.”
After he got over his revulsion, after he was filled with divine love, Saint Francis and his friends started a ministry to the leper colonies. They fed them, they cared for them, ate with them, and kissed their wounds. For real.
How do we overcome our fears?
How about we face our fears head on. Right here, right now, in this smelly back alley on the bad side of Kolob.
Here we are staring down our worst nightmare. Welcome to mortality!
After all the pain and blood and horror this world can throw at us, we can overcome -- but not by ourselves, not on our own. We need Christ and the power of His pure love to turn our collective pain into paradise, this pitiful hell into heaven, transforming our deepest fears into unshakable faith thru Him who shined His light into the darkness so we would no more be afraid of the dark.
That's what I believe.
A promise I give unto you . . . that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me . . . the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am.
What in the world are we afraid of, with Christ as our King? Tanks and missiles are child's toys compared to the power of love.
Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
Okay, Noble and Great Ones, You can Rejoin Us Now
If you walk into any Sunday School class and ask, "Why did we come to earth?", chances are you'll receive an answer like this:
Answer: "To get a body."
Me: Sounds good. But let's continue this line of questioning: Why do we need a body?
Answer: "To become like Heavenly Father."
Me: You got me there! But I am not satisfied yet. Whydoes Heavenly Father have a body?
Answer: "Um . . . well . . . you know, I don't think we learn that until the Second Anointing. Above my pay grade."
What's a Body For?
Carol Lynn Pearson wrote the LDS musical My Turn on Earth. To this day, I go around the kitchen scaring the kids, bursting out:
I have a plan, it will save every man! . . .
In the song "Everybody Ought to Have a Body," it says: It can frown, it can stare, It can pull somebody's hair. It can pound around and weep and sob. It can hit, it can bite, It can even fight. Teaching a body is really a job.
Ponder the implications of what Joseph Smith said:
God is Good & all his acts are for the benefit of inferior intelligences--
God saw that those intelligences had not power to defend themselves against those that had a tabernacle;
Therefore the Lord called them together in Council & agreed to form them tabernacles so that he might gender the spirit & the tabernacle together so as to create sympathy for their fellow man--
for it is a natural thing with those spirits that have the most power to bear down on those of lesser power; so we see the devil is without a tabernacle. (Joseph Smith, reported in William P. McIntire Minute Book, 28 March 1841; quoted in Ehat and Cook, Words of Joseph Smith; punctuation and spelling modernized.)
A body is simply expression incarnate. Through our five senses, we perceive the world around us, and our body is the way we interact with it.
But above all, a body is the ultimate expression of love, meaning, it is the way we express what we truly love (good or evil).
Love is part of our basic biology.
Imagine how boring eternal life would be if we were unable to feel emotions produced by love, both pleasurable (joy) and painful (sorrow).
Hard Pass on Impassibility
I am glad our God is not, as the theologians say, "impassible."
A lot of Christians believe in the impassibility of God, which means that He does not experience pleasure or pain based on the actions of another being. Why not? Because if we were able to cause God to be sad, then that makes Him subject to us! This is why the creeds say "God is without passions," because they believe him to be immutable.
God weeps! He has tear ducts! Jesus's resurrected bowels are "filled with compassion" towards us (3 Nephi 17:6).
Love produces a physiological effect even in glorified Beings.
There are only 118 known elements in our universe. (And we could probably do with less Californium.)
When Jesus entered this world as a Man, the same 118 elements composed His body as ours.
For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy.
How does God deal with all those "feelings"?
A body does not make us like our Heavenly Father!
A pure heart does.
This should sound familiar:
For this is Zion -- The pure in heart.
Let's save this topic for another post. Stay tuned.
Snake Tastes Like Chicken
So here we are, with our brand-new physical bodies designed to make us the most loving people in the universe . . . and then we're thrown a curve ball. A 90 mph curve ball barreling straight toward us.
And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God . . . And they loved Satan more than God.
And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.
Really? Well, before we cast stones, who among us wants to eat a green salad after you've tasted fried chicken? Let him eat the first soybean.
Cain was sick of working hard for a living, tilling the cursed ground and offering up zucchini, when all he had to do was take advantage of his brother. Then he'd have lots of lamb chops to eat. All's fair in love and war . . . and advancing our career.
Life is "for the sake of getting gain" (Moses 5:50), isn't it?
Satan's wonderful, terrible plan all along has been to get us to love the wrong thing.
When Josiah Quincy, the Mayor of Boston made a visit to Nauvoo, Joseph Smith showed him some of the Egyptian papers.
Quincy said, "The parchment…showed a rude drawing of a man and woman, and a serpent walking upon a pair of legs. I ventured to doubt the propriety of providing the reptile in question with this unusual means of locomotion. “Why, that's as plain as a pikestaff,” was the rejoinder [from Joseph]. “Before the Fall snakes always went about on legs, just like chickens. They were deprived of them, in punishment for their agency in the ruin of man.” (Millet & Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 2: The Pearl of Great Price, p. 92. (Here's a picture taken from an engraving found in the tomb of Ramses IX.)
How Do We Learn to Love the Light?
You think I know? It is what I am trying to learn. And with the Lord's help, we may just get there together.
When I was ten years old my dad brought home a couple of giant pizzas for dinner. The pizza was delicious. But that night I became sick and threw up. A lot. To this day I cannot stand the taste of black olives. They're the the only food I won't eat.
You may love olives. You might not understand how someone could not love olives. You might try to get me to eat them, even just "a bite", the way we try to get children to eat their vegetables, hoping if they eat broccoli enough times they will eventually like it. (Don't get me started on Lima beans, whose real name is phaseolus lunatus, which better describes their taste.)
My point is, we cannot force someone to love something. God himself cannot make us love Him.
Spiritual taste buds cannot be manipulated, or tricked, into loving the light. There is no "gimmick" that will bring conversion to Christ and His law of love.
But sin can dull our taste buds to the point we lose our sense of taste, requiring more and more salt to get the same satisfaction.
Love is something we must experience, we must taste, for ourselves.
I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.
If we want to learn to love, we better ask Christ to teach us.
Ye shall pluck the fruit [of the tree of life], which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure;
And ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
As we spend time with Christ, love will abound.
Joseph Smith recollected the way he felt after his First Vision:
My soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great joy and the Lord was with me.
Tonight, please, let us ask Christ to show us the way.