If you want to associate with angels, you must go to where they are by doing what they are doing. If you do what they do, then they will seek you out, for you will be like them and be one of them, and they will desire to associate with you. They will come to you if you go to them.
And what do angels do? They are ministers and messengers. They visit those who are weary, worn, suffering, mourning, and desiring comfort. They teach, warn, and watch over mankind, bearing record of humanity’s righteousness and wickedness.
Do these things and you will be an angel, and angels will seek you out.
What does it mean to have a “broken heart”?
It means exactly that – you’ve had your heart broken. You’ve put your trust in something that ought not be trusted. You’ve believed something you should not have believed. You’ve followed something you should not have followed. And because you did these things, you came to the inevitable conclusion: your trust, your hope, your following, your belief, and your love were all betrayed. The thing that you wanted cannot happen, and your heart has been broken because of it.
And because your heart is broken, you may feel two ways:
- You are bitter. You are angry. You have been betrayed! And you seek to tear down the thing which betrayed you. But feeling this is folly, because you are allowing yourself to be acted upon. You see yourself as the victim.
- You are sorrowful, because you are not the victim: you are the perpetrator. You have no one to blame but yourself for your unbelief. And in the depths of your despair, you cry out and ask to be shown the better way, because your spirit is contrite.
I hope it’s the latter.
This year our Sunday School is studying the New Testament, and last week the lesson covered Matthew 5.
As we started getting in to the lesson, I was saddened by how we blew through all of the verses. We read them, we made the standard comments, and we moved on. There was no depth to the discussion. There was no searching. And, as such, there was no learning.
I pulled up the verses on my seerstone and started reading them. And instead of trying to see what they meant, I started asking myself questions. I tried to think of all the questions I could, and I wrote them down.
In 40 minutes of asking questions and thinking about them, I barely made it 5 verses in to the chapter, but it was wonderful! I pondered ideas I had never heard before, and asked things I had never questioned.
- “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him”
- Why are these multitudes following him?
- He goes up in to the mountain. He’s about to participate in a temple experience.
- Would that be a general thing? Or would the audience be more selective?
- Not everyone is prepared to receive the patterns of the universe from the mouth of God.
- Only his disciples came to him: not the multitude.
- And the Luke account points out that he’s speaking to his disciples, and not the multitude (Luke 6:20).
- The disciples didn’t come up until “he was set”. How did they know?
- Why wouldn’t they have just walked up with Him?
- “And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,”
- Them = the disciples
- This is a small crowd!
- Why do we always picture this hillside covered with people? It sounds like it wasn’t more than a dozen or two.
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
- Is there such a thing as “rich in spirit”?
- What is the kingdom of heaven?
- How is it possible to possess it?
- This is in the present tense (“theirs is”). All the others are in the future tense (“they shall”).
- Is this significant?
- Why the difference?
- “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
- What sort of comfort is this talking about?
- What kind of comforters does Jesus teach about?
- How does mourning qualify us for those comforters?
- Does it?
- Is this talking about the first and second comforters?
- Or is he just talking about helping you feel better?
- What kind of mourning is this?
- Is this the mourning of “I’m sad this happened” or “I’m sad my friend died”, or what?
- Is this related to the mourning mentioned in Isaiah 61:1-3?
- Does this mourning/comforting pair contradict what Alma taught at the Waters of Mormon about mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who need comfort?
- How do we know when those who mourn need comfort vs collaborative mourning?
- Is mourning related to godly sorrow?
- “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
- What is meekness?
- Receiving an inheritance implies that someone has died or has moved on. Who owns the Earth now? Where are they going?
- How can multiple people inherit the same thing?
- What sort of inheritance is this?
- Is this talking about the planet we live on?
- Does “earth” mean anything else? (Dirt? Generally habitable places/planets?)
- Why are all of these verses in the 3rd person? Do the disciples not qualify for any of this?
If one person can think up these questions and be edified by asking them, why do we skim over these verses? Why do we believe that we have learned all there is to learn? We believe the Atonement was infinite (2 Nephi 9:7), so doesn’t that imply that what we can learn about it is also infinite? Why are we content with the same superficial pap that we’ve been spoon-feeding ourselves for generations?
Here’s an interesting challenge: imagine that you have been asked to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. Write one, but don’t write a single declarative sentence. Do nothing but ask questions. What questions would you ask?
“A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge” – Joseph Smith, Jr.
The more knowledge you have, the closer you are to salvation and eternal life, which implies that you know more about the character of God (John 17:3). Repentance, being the act of moving closer to salvation, necessarily means that you are learning more about Him.
Repentance has nothing to do with what you have done. It has everything to do with what you know.
We often speak of repentance as “confessing and forsaking” our sins, groveling in the dirt, pleading for forgiveness, and pledging that we will never do [whatever we did] again. This is not repentance. These things are the fruits of true repentance. If you have truly learned more about God, you will better understand your relation to Him and your relationship with Him. Understanding this means you will either seek to run away and hide (Mosiah 3:25, Mormon 9:1-5) or you will seek the redeeming grace of Christ. If you seek the latter, then you may feel compelled to confess your sins to others as a testimony of your repentance, and you will desire to never repeat the act (Mosiah 5:2).
But these are the fruits of repentance. They are not repentance itself. Repentance is to “come, follow [Him]”. It is to “learn of [Him]” (Matt. 11:29). We sin as neglect this duty.
Come, let us sin no more.
This is another excellent blog post, this time about how shedding the idea of “religious certainty” can impact your beliefs. I identify very much with this.
- I no longer carry the burden to defend God or to convince anyone of anything.
- I appreciate the gifts of this life far more, now that I’m not so focused on the next.
- I no longer get upset when I hear about what other people believe.
- My morals are becoming my own.
- I have a much larger sense of mystery now.
- I’m now open to Truth wherever I find it.
- My God got way bigger.
A CNN article on their “Belief Blog” has been going around recently. I’m glad I read it, because this resonated with my soul:
What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.
We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.
We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.
We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.
We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.
You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.
Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.