Sunday, March 21, 2021

Why Church?

I saw a post a while ago on facebook that had a quote from Brigham Young about what it means to be a good person. It said something to this effect: "A good man is a good man whether in or out of this church". The person who posted it added their own commentary something like "just because I've decided to take a break from church for a bit doesn't mean I don't know it's true. I wish people would get off our back about it."

They are correct that you don't need to go to church to know that Christ's church is true. However, there are a few critical elements they are missing that are pertinent to their salvation. This post goes out to anyone who still loves the Lord and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or wants to understand it who isn't) and isn't currently going to church. It is an expression of love and invitation, and also a reminder of how to be more happy. If you are not in either of those categories and have a friend who you'd like to share this message with, please do so kindly and tactfully.

<disclaimer>I apologize if I come across as to "in your face". I really did try to say this in as caring and loving a way as possible</disclaimer>

As for those missing elements, here we go.

1. The import of a covenant.

Everyone who follows the example of Jesus Christ and is baptized by proper priesthood authority makes a covenant with Him. This covenant includes the following:

    a. Always Remember Him
    b. Keep His Commandments
    c. Take His Name Upon Us

All three of those include attending our meetings. The sacrament administered at church is a key element and a divinely designated method of remembering Jesus Christ, His sacrifice for us and determining what we will do better to keep His commandments and thereby take His name upon us. We need that reminder in a place that is specifically designed as an ordinance room, specifically dedicated for such a time of remembrance. I know with COVID there are many families still doing this at home for health reasons, but if you are healthy enough to go, not doing so is breaking your covenants to attend your meetings and robbing yourself of additional companionship of the Holy Ghost. 

2. Knowing Vs Doing

In the Book of Mormon King Benjamin taught the value of acting on our knowledge of the truth. Knowing isn't and never will be enough to be exalted in the Celestial Kingdom. The gospel is a gospel of action, not passive belief. But belief can fade into unbelief. This happens when it is not persistently, joyfully and deliberately acted upon. This includes attending the Lord's church if we know it's true (see Mosiah 4:10). Not doing so is akin to praying to know if Jesus is the Son of God without spending our lives personally researching and learning about His life, teachings and atonement or, worse yet, refusing to emulate Him as best we can when we find out by the Spirit who He truly is.

How can we possibly claim to take His name upon us if we are not willing to follow His commandments? The Savior Himself commands attending worship meetings often in 3 Nephi 18:22, "ye shall meet together oft..." when He establishes His church among the Nephites. That command remains in force today.

This is echoed in the temple recommend interview questions where it asks "Do you strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, both at home and at church; attend your meetings...". If you are safe to attend (be honest about this one!) and are not, then you are negatively impacting your temple worthiness as well.

On the "knowing and not doing" thing, I have learned the hard way the blessings of actually following through with that and obeying "with exactness" (Alma 57:12). I suffered for more than 20 years in sexual addiction and no matter how much I studied the gospel and "tried", there really is a lot of truth to the phrase, "there is no try, there is only do or do not". I devoured The Infinite Atonement by Tad Callister cover to cover more than once and enjoyed the spiritual deliciousness of The Miracle of Forgiveness, Accomplishing the Impossible, Unstuck: How the Savior Frees us From Our Favorite Sins, When We Don't See Eye to Eye, Without Offense: The Art of Giving and Receiving Criticism, Like Dragons Did They Fight and many more. However, it was all without long term results because studying simply wasn't enough to change my heart. Something drastic had to happen. It wasn't until shortly after Lorraine's death that I regained total worthiness to return to the temple. The Lord knew I needed more of her help to overcome the addiction than she could offer in her broken mortal body and He provided it, but only my accepting that offer by letting her go when God made it painfully obvious it was time did I finally break free.

Knowing is not doing. It never will be and will never carry the same eternal weight as doing and becoming, meaning becoming someone who wants righteousness, who wants to go to church and obey with exactness consistently.

3. The minimum

I LOVE this quote from President Eyring.

|As the challenges around us increase, we must commit to do more to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Casual prayer won’t be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture won’t be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won’t be enough. Hoping that we will have the Atonement work in our lives and that we will perhaps sometimes feel the influence of the Holy Ghost won’t be enough. And one great burst of effort won’t be enough.

Only a steady, ever-increasing effort will allow the Lord to take us to higher ground.|

What is currently the minimum of what the Lord asks of His saints? Temple worthiness. So when he says "doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won't be enough", what does that tell you? Asking how good we have to be just to remain temple worthy completely misses the point of worship and discipleship altogether. Asking how good we can be, as I have hammered on multiple podcasts and blogs, is the question that can bring us to sufficiently high ground to remain safe from the devils tactics. He will use the argument that "knowing is enough", he will use complacency, he will use laziness, idolatry, distraction, depression and more. But you cannot afford to simply be comfortable with knowing. Faith is an action word and it leads to action, ever increasing action, as put by Pres. Eyring. If your faith doesn't drive you to ever increasing action, it's not faith anymore. It's doing what Moroni falsely accused Pahoran of doing in Alma 60:7-12.

I totally understand that often times, life circumstances make it quite difficult to want to go to church. I suffered at the hands of a bully (who happened to be the bishop's son at the time) during my teen years. I have had horrible things said about me and false rumors spread about me and my first wife Lorraine in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. At one point I was legitimately having a really rough time accidentally making a ton of social mistakes (Asperger's is rough sometimes) that ruffled a bunch of feathers in the ward in Hamilton. I came to the point where I considered no longer attending church for a time to give people a break from my weaknesses. My self-esteem was really low at that point. But I never let any of those situations and lots more like them (even on my mission) stop me from going. Why?

Because I. MADE. COVENANTS. and the Lord WILL keep His end of them if I keep mine. He always does for me and He always will for you. D&C 82:10, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say ye have no promise." No, being perfectly obedient will not always result in us getting what we want or think we need, but it will always make it possible to receive more from God. Wouldn't you rather keep that "tap water", if you will, constantly running through obedience and be patient while God works than shut off the faucet and make it much more difficult for Him to meet our spiritual and temporal needs? He literally is limited or more empowered to bless us to the degree we choose to do as He commands, including attending church. Don't limit yourself and don't limit Him by slowing down the flow of good from heaven.

Always leave that door open. 

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