In my last post I said, "it is not the messenger that matters: it is the message; and in fact, the message proves whether or not the messenger is of God, not the other way around."
So let's recap: we only want to obey the word (i.e. spiritual law) that comes from God.
No man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law.
If we put this into a math equation, it might looks something like this:
Law = Word x (God + y)
where "y" stands for anyone who speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, whether it is a stranger, an angel, or your hair dresser.
King of Kings
Now imagine a kingdom in which all of the citizens are kings and queens. And there is One among them who is King of Kings.
Let's call this kingdom . . . the Celestial Kingdom.
Does being a king in that kingdom mean we get to rule over the other kings? Does being a queen mean we get to boss the other queens around?
Of course not. We wold all be equal. And there would be one Lord of Lords.
[We] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
You might ask, "What good is being a king if I am not in charge? After all, if we are all kings, it is like no one is."
Since God's word is sovereign, do we need a hierarchy in heaven? Is Zion going to be run like the Roman Catholic Magisterium, or the Dominican Republic, or the Pepsi Cola Corporation? Those are all hierarchies. Many people assume Zion'll have a president, a governing board, executive level officers, middle managers, workers . . . and some poor sap who'll feel lucky just to take out the trash.
Let's look at the definition of "hierarchy."
HIERARCHY, noun: "a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority."
Contrast that with this definition:
ZION, noun: "They who dwell in [God's] presence . . . and he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion" (D&C 76:95).
Are these two systems compatible? Let's find out, shall we?
Can People Be Equal in a Hierarchy?
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." George Orwell described human nature: we all support the idea of equality, so long as we're a little more equal than everyone else.
We should ask ourselves, does God really want us to be "equal"?
That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.
For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;
For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you.
Answer: Yes, God wants us to be equal.
What does it mean to be Equal?
I am not LeBron James's equal on the basketball court (I think that is safe to assume). On the other hand, I bet LeBron James can't sing Rodolfo's O soave fancuilla from La Boheme as well as me (but to be fair, I have never heard LeBron reach for the High C at the climax of Che gelida manina).
So equality doesn't mean we all possess the same aptitude or skill. We all have different strengths and weakness.
These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord they God, I am more intelligent than they all.
Being "equal" does not mean we are the "same."
When I was young I thought that the goal of becoming “one” meant we would all be like each other. Now I realize that it means we would all be like Christ. We share one heart because the heart is His.
The gospel teaches unity, not uniformity. Our Father in Heaven created individuality in His children just as He did in the snowflakes that fall from the sky: no two are alike.
Even though we are not equal in our nature, we can be equal in our status. What does that mean?
Christ desires to make us "joint heirs" with him in the Celestial Kingdom.
He that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom;
Therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
This is referring to our status: we will receive all that the Father "hath" and be made equal "in power, and in might, and in dominion" (D&C 76:95).
ZION DOES NOT HAVE A HIERARCHY
Yes, you read that correctly: Zion does not have a hierarchy. *Gasp*
At this moment you are probably thinking of a dozen reasons why I am wrong.
Maybe I'm bonkers, but let me explain before you decide.
Take out your No. 2 pencils and let's begin:
Question 1: When you kneel at your bedside to say your evening prayers, how do you begin your prayer:
Question 2: Which of the following better describes your idea of heaven:
(a) A football team -or- (b) A family
Question 3: Does Christ cast a shadow?
(a) Yes, Christ casts a shadow -or- (b) No, Christ does not cast a shadow.
To create a shadow, all you need is an obstacle to block the light. When light cannot pass through an object, it creates a dark "umbra".
[Christ] cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left.
Why can't Christ have a shadow? Because he is the Source of light, like the sun. There is no shadow in him.
Are shadows bad?
Shadows represent the legalism that creeps into our faith through the Trojan horse of "the traditions of men."
That wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
Remember our equation:
Law = Word x (God + y)
Look at how it can be slightly altered with just a bit of shadow:
Law = Word x (God) + y
See the difference?
Jesus called us out of the shadow of the law; and he specifically rejected the traditions of the Jews, who had come to believe the law and their traditions were one and the same.
Oddly, many people like to be another's shadow (to get out of the heat, I guess, because it can get pretty warm in the refiner's fire).
Shadows cool us off because they provide us with black-and-white certainty, thereby saving us the trouble of inquiring of the Lord.
We see the shadow's umbra growing when a person tries to get others to live the gospel . . . according to Tim, or Bill, or Tiffany, or President So-and-So.
"Well, So-and-So said we have to [fill in the blank: take the sacrament with the right hand; do not drink caffeinated beverages; or use poker cards; or wear a blue shirt when passing the sacrament; or eat too much meat; or wear hats in church; or listen to rock music]" and so on. (It's a very long list.)
Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up -- that which ye have seen me do.
(3 Nephi 18:24)
I have never seen the Lord drink a Mt. Dew. But then, I have not not seen him drink one, either.
Question 4: Do hierarchies create "umbras"?
(a) No, bodies standing between me and the Lord do not cast shadows. -or- (b) Yes, bodies standing between me and the Lord do cast shadows.
Why would we allow anyone to block any portion of Christ's light from reaching us?
One of the big problems with hierarchies is that they enable idolatry ("hero worship" of those at the top).
I saw no temple [in the holy Jerusalem] for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Imagine! John is describing a reality very different from the one we see in the workplace, in government, or at church.
Question 5: How old were you when stopped needing a babysitter?
(a) I am 53 years old and I still need a babysitter. -or- (b) I was around eight or nine years old when my parents trusted me to be home alone.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till [Till! TILL!!] we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children.
In Zion we will have "come of age", as Paul points out, and the hierarchical training wheels will come off.
I think most of us assume the hierarchies we see on earth will exist in some form in heaven -- that between us and God there'll be layers of bureaucratic red tape and angels standing as sentinels like bouncers at the bar.
Maybe we'll be able to wave at Him from the nosebleed section.
Question 6: Can you "lay off", "fire", "terminate" "demote" or "excommunicate" a member of your family?
(a) Yes, the good-for-nothings are dead to me. -or- (b) No, we will always be family no matter what; we share the same blood.
How did you do? Add up the number of times you chose Answer (a) and score yourself:
5 - 6 = Master Mahan 3 - 4 = Pope Stephen VI 1 - 2 = Zeezrom 0 = Zoram (congratulations!)
The truth is there is NO ONE that stands between us and our Savior. He is right here. He is in us!
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.
The sanctified are one with Christ. The way we treat each other is the way we treat Him. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Not So Fast
"Wait a minute," I imagine someone is saying. "Won't there always be an organizational structure, a heavenly hierarchy, to manage the concourses of angels?"
That depends. Is the Church of the Firstborn a hierarchy?
They who dwell in [God's] presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;
And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.
And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one.
The organization of Zion is that of a family.
Instead of a "rank and file" organization, I view us holding hands in a circle around Christ so that we all receive a fullness of his light equally -- like this:
Even though I can't draw, I wanted to illustrate this point: our purpose is to strengthen each other, arm in arm -- not as "rulers" but as brothers and sisters.
When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Leadership was never about being "in charge" because we already have a Shepherd who is in charge.
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
And [Jesus] said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
Why is it that we want our churches to operate like a gentile kingdom, when Jesus forbade such a thing -- and told us explicitly not to "exercise authority" like the world?!
Even Peter -- the apostle we associate most with priesthood authority and keys -- said:
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
(1 Peter 5:2-3)
So we see that we do not need a hierarchy to tell us how to act, what to think, how to dress, what to drink, what to watch, who to date, what to pay, how to pray . . . we need friends.
What we need is to repent and lovingly help others come unto Christ.
Christ can change our nature, but we cannot change even a hair on our head -- let alone a hair on the head of our neighbor! So let's stop sewing toupees.
We just need to support and love one another while Christ works things out.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.