We can tell from a leaf's shape what kind of tree it came from. A church's culture can tell us what kind of spiritual laws they follow.
1. Pretend there's a taxonomy of spiritual laws, into which we can fit them broadly into three degrees: there are the "higher laws" (Celestial); there are the "lesser laws" (Telestial); and everything in between.
2. Each law bears fruit after its own kind. If we plant a tomato, we are not going to harvest a giraffe. We don't get 24 karat gold from a copper mine. And we don't get Zion from tithing and home teaching/ministering.
3. So the problem we face is expecting "celestial blessings" from living a "telestial law." I mean, isn't that Lucifer's plan? To convince us we're progressing along the straight and narrow path when in fact we're knee-deep in the quicksand of a hollow religion, living on the scraps of a dead (i.e. lesser) law?
4. Oftentimes, doctrines and practices that are "lesser" end up becoming sacred cows (i.e. something held to be above criticism). Why is it, that in the midst of Christ's glorious Good News; in the bosom of eternal and infinite love; and in the presence of unfailing redeeming grace . . . we want to wrangle over which hand to take the sacrament with, or what color of shirt we should wear to church; or whether open-toed sandals are modest; or whether we should play with face cards; or drink caffeine; or watch rated R movies; or stand when a dignitary enters (or leaves) a room; etc.?
5. In other words, there seems to be a gravitational attraction between us and "lesser laws" ― toward legalism that produces spiritual death.
6. All of us have a circumference of ignorance. We possess a little truth, but in our childlike condition our knowledge is incomplete and distorted. THE POINT: we must discard the cherished lesser laws we have grown comfortable with in order to live by Christ's more excellent way.
7. When we cling to lesser laws rather than embracing Christ's law of the gospel (which is His celestial law of love), we are captive to the spirit of Anti-Christ, which prevents us from experiencing a fulness of God's intelligence (or glory), causing us to remain in gross darkness.
8. Jesus came to fulfill the Law of Moses so we would not be subject to a lesser law, which is just another form of "bondage." This is the "freedom" we find in Christ ― freedom from the rules, regulations, rituals and legalism that Paul calls "the letter of the law."
9. The Spirit of the law does not give us license to break the letter of the Celestial law. However, the Spirit of the law DOES give us license to break the letter of a terrestial or telestial law . . . ALL THE TIME.
10. Is it a big surprise to anyone that most of the preaching we hear in Church advocates for lesser laws? Ironically, this preaching benefits only those who are living an even lesser law than the one being taught ― and for those seeking to live a greater law, it creates confusion and spiritual stagnation.
11. When we advocate a practice we have personally benefited from that is not a celestial law, and teach it as a general principle for others to follow, we set ourselves up as the standard rather than Christ. For example, "I know God wants us to only eat whole grains. It is sinful to ingest bleached white flour. You shouldn't eat white bread because it'll make you sick. And if you are sick, it is probably because you're not obeying the Word of Wisdom. If we really want God's blessing, we must give up gluten entirely."
12.As we come unto Christ, lesser laws and practices become obsolete. Do we make 16-year-olds sit in a car seat? Does our elementary school principal have authority over us after we've matriculated to high school? Can a church leader supersede Christ's eternal, unchanging gospel? So as we mature spiritually, we graduate from the rules and regulations that define most religion.
13.The Law of the Harvest is about harnessing the creative and restorative power of Christ. This requires something important ― something fundamental to our intelligence and existence: agency.
(i) Agency requires a body to "act" and not to merely be acted upon;
(ii) Bodies are the means of Expression, or Logos ("by the word of my power"); creation occurred by the Expression of Christ's body; redemption occurs by the Restoration of it.
(iii) Spiritual and physical bodies are both made up of "element." They are of same substance (see D&C 131:7-8). "The elements are eternal" (D&C 93:33).
(iv) Christ embodies truth and Spirit and light and love (literally). His Body, or Tabernacle, endows all creation because He is the "light that proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things" (D&C 88:12-13).
(v) Christ is "in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever. And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things" (D&C 88:41-42).
(vi) Jesus is not just the Lawgiver; He is the Law itself.
14. What if Christ's work and glory was the turning of the wheels of creation and restoration? What if we could only redeem what we had created? What if we could only become what we had redeemed? What if we could only create what we had become?
15. The current versions of church hierarchies that we see on earth all perpetuate a systemic form of spiritual bondage to some degree, because they rely on elements of priestcraft instead of the pure love of Christ required for Zion.
16. Rather than defying the authority of Rome, as the Reformers we celebrate did, we have created New Rome instead of the New Jerusalem.
17. The doctrine that the authority of leadership is unassailable has resulted in spiritual abuse and idolatry.
The Parable of the Baker
Long ago there lived a humble baker who made cakes and cookies for her family and neighbors.
Whenever she saw a stranger, she gave them a treat from her basket and took time to get to know them. Everyone loved the baker.
Everyone, that is, except the other bakers in town who were jealous of her delicious lemon chiffon cakes and creamy chocolate soufflés.
These other bakers could not reproduce the delicious smells and flavors of the humble baker, so in their ambition to out do her they created more extravagant and complex desserts, like the towering croque en bouche.
The town people became enamored with the elaborate creations of the other bakers, throwing celebrations catered with the expensive pastries of these other bakers, who became famous and rich.
Over time the townspeople came to despise the lowly, plain desserts made by the humble baker, and as a consequence, the baker became destitute since no one wanted to buy her baked goods anymore.
Superstar chef Gordon Ramsey and his team came to the bakery on a rescue mission, and told the baker, "If you want to compete in the modern culinary scene, you must update your brand. You must revamp your recipes. You need to refresh your ingredients with what is fashionable today."
The humble baker shook her head, and said, "No, I was taught to bake by my mother, and these are family recipes."
One day a proclamation was sent throughout the kingdom: for the Queen's 90th birthday celebration, all the bakers were invited to contribute their signature dessert, and the Queen (who had a sweet tooth) would conduct a blind taste test and choose a winner who would receive half of the kingdom as a reward.
The baking community flew into a frenzy, everyone practicing to perfect their recipes.
The humble baker had no desire to receive half of the kingdom, content with her little cottage on the edge of town, and so she had no plans to enter the contest. But when a poor small shepherd boy came to her, asking if she could teach him to cook so he might enter the contest, she said, "Why do you want to win? To become a Lord? To have wealth and power?"
"Oh no, ma'am," the boy said, "I just want to see the Queen smile."
And so the baker accepted, delighted to pass along her knowledge. She had the boy prepare a simple shortbread cookie with a powdered sugar dusting. "But surely this is too simple for the Queen?" he said. "Trust me," the baker said.
Soon the day of the Queen's birthday came, and the entire kingdom came to party with her. The castle was surrounded with dozens of tables holding all of the desserts for the contest.
The Queen, very wise and very old, tasted a bite from each dessert, relishing each morsel. She enjoyed mille-feuilles and strawberry tarts, eclairs and German chocolate cakes, and a thousand other confections.
At the very end of her feast, on the last table, on the last plate, was a plain shortbread cookie, looking quite out of place.
The shepherd boy stood at attention, holding his breath as the Queen took a bite of his cookie. As her mouth closed, he saw the corners curl into a beautiful smile. The Queen closed her eyes and ate the entire cookie, to the astonishment of the crowd.
"Who made this cookie?" the Queen asked.
The boy sheepishly stepped forward. "I did, your Majesty."
"Really? Who taught you to make such a thing?" The boy feared he was in trouble, that he had offended the Queen with his simple offering.
"She did," the boy said, pointing the humble baker, who had come to watch the festivities.
The Queen saw the baker and cried, "Daughter!" pulling her into a warm embrace.
Love is Simple
Love is simple.
Just like we can tell a tree from its leaf's shape, we can spot a disciple of Christ by their love.
Love is the highest law; it is what the apostle James called "the royal law." Jesus' pure love is the main ingredient of the gospel.
Sure, we can "dress-up" lesser laws, making them look sexy, but an earthly hierarchy (croque en bouche) cannot replace Christ's divine love.
No authority can change the recipe.
And the angel said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil.