|by Damir Krivenko|
I wonder if we aren't always right there, at the tree, basking in the glow of the fruit of righteousness, where are we?
Sometimes, maybe we're visiting the great and spacious building. Maybe we have loved ones who live there and we're bending our standards just enough that they're comfortable with them. Maybe we're looking down our noses at someone who isn't as perfect as we think we are, or who struggles just to get to church. Maybe we like it over there and feel accepted and like we fit in better there.
Or maybe we're somewhere wandering in the mist of darkness, feeling overwhelmed and worn down by the world.
In this talk, Elder Bednar talks about the three groups of people heading toward the tree, and what happens to them. After reading that, I considered whether I was in either of the two less committed groups. Do I wander off the path when things get dark? Do I, after having partaken of the fruit, overhear the mocking and laughter of those in the building and feel embarrassed and turn toward them instead of "not heeding" their words? It's hard. It's really hard.
We are surrounded by the great and spacious building. You may have people living in your house that are in it, who deride your beliefs, accuse you of being "judgmental" or "hateful" because of your standards, or who simply mock you for your religion.
I've also been pondering 2 Timothy chapter 3. If you read that and you believe it as prophecy (which I do), how can you not feel some... anxiety about the last days being here? If you look around the world, and especially around the United States, you can't deny seeing almost everything Paul lists:
- Men shall be lovers of their own selves (Selfishness)
- Boasters, proud
- Disobedient to parents (each new generation has found ways to pull further and further away from traditions of family, church and hard work, etc.)
- Without natural affection (which is interpreted many ways by others, but my church defines as "any unholy, unnatural, or impure sexual activity", which makes sense)
- False accusers
- Incontinent (lacking in moderation or self-control, especially of sexual desire)
- Despisers of those that are good
- Heady (rashly impetuous)
- Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God
- Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof
- Leading captive silly women laden with sins
- led away with divers lusts
- ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth
These are very much the "last" days. If ever there was a time when all these things are happening, it's now. We're here.
So, in these times of craziness and worldliness-- when perhaps many people we love are leaving or not interested in the path to God, how do you "hold fast" to the iron rod? How do you stay beneath the tree once you've been there and felt God's love? How do you resist the mists of darkness or the noise of the building?
The standard Sunday School answers are true for me:
- Daily read, ponder and study the scriptures and other sources of the Word of God
- Daily (and constant) prayer- build a relationship with God and continue strengthening it
- Attending church services and the temple to feed your spirit, renew covenants and participate in opportunities to serve others
- Get to know Jesus Christ as your Savior, Brother and Friend
- Love others with charity