My kids finished the school year yesterday. Now they are on summer vacation, lounging in the grass with popsicles and watching the clouds cross the sky, nary a care in the world.
They brought home their Yearbooks signed by friends with little bits of advice from their teaches.
It reminded me of one of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a guy who lived 2000 years ago whose name was Paul:
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
(1 Cor. 14:1)
Well, isn't that just peachy. Does Paul tell us to follow the prophet?
No, he tells us to follow the love.
Then, after we're filled with love, we will desire spiritual gifts for the right reasons (at the top of the list is to glorify God).
But what's interesting is after we have charity, there is one particular gift which Paul says we should seek earnestly: the gift to prophesy.
Why? What makes prophecy so special? (I've always been partial to the diversity of operations, myself.)
Nephi explains the worth of prophecy:
We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, [WHY?] and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
(2 Nephi 25:26)
In this way, we can all be prophets.
Angels and Prophets, What's the Difference?
There is no great difference between prophets and angels.
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.
(2 Nephi 32:3)
The same could be said of prophets.
While prophets and angels reveal the word of God generally, their special purpose is to witness of Christ.
All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.
(3 Nephi 20:24)
In other words, a prophet or angel will tell you to follow Christ and not to follow him or her.
Lehi describes the consequences of following someone other than God in a cryptic passage, showing how he was deceived:
I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; [looks can be deceiving] and he came and stood before me.
And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. [Oh oh. Big red flag, Lehi. This is like every horror movie I have ever seen, yelling at the teenagers to not go in there.]
And it came to pass that as I followed him [Lehi, please, wake up!] I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. [Not a good place to be. And yet, here we are.]
And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord. [Finally!]
(1 Nephi 8:5-8)
And when he prayed (i.e. turned to God) Lehi was delivered at last.
Angels in the Outfield
We learn this same lesson from the vision of John the Revelator, where he was speaking to an angel on the Isle of Patmos:
And I fell at [the angel's] feet to worship him.
And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God.
So the angel here was a good angel because he directed John's attention to God.
And what do we see a true messenger from Father saying?
1. Don't worship me, idiot.
2. I am just your brother in the work of the Lord, of thy fellow knucklehads.