Friday, May 2, 2014

2 Nephi 26:23-28 -- On Joining Sinners Anonymous

"For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden."
2 Nephi 26:23-28

There is a lot of good stuff in this chapter.  Here, I really like the idea of God not working in darkness, and a description of what working in darkness might be.  If God did things that weren't for the benefit of the world, that might be working in darkness.  Or if God told any specific group of people that they were unwelcome to partake of his salvation.  That could be darkness.  But he *doesn't* do this.  He doesn't tell anyone at all to go away.  He invites us all in, giving us the same commandments, the same rules, and the same opportunities to learn and grow.  ... Of course we often choose to depart from God, and we choose not to partake.  And even though we can lie to ourselves and become convinced that it is God's fault, he doesn't want us, and he should accept us on our terms, the truth of the matter is that really does want us all to come.
*Everyone* has to come to God on God's terms.  He's God.  He knows better than we do, no matter how brilliant we are.  He understands our several challenges, and he works with us inexhaustibly if we desire to come to him... but when it doesn't work, it is never because God is rejecting us.  It is because we value something else more than we value him, and *we* are the ones that choose to walk away.
Different rules are harder for different people.  Some people get stuck on things that seem simple to others, but which are hard for them.  It might be attending church or reading the scriptures.  Maybe it is prayer.  It is a huge challenge for some people to feel or acknowledge that there is anything there besides the ceiling.  Some people might get stuck on chastity, because they can't give up extramarital sexual behavior, and that is something that they feel defines them, or an urge they don't feel they can fight.  Some people might get stuck on envy or stealing, because they have kleptomaniacal urges.  Some people are not good at social things and they stumble over the loving other people part.  Maybe it is anger or a desire for revenge rather than forgiveness.  Sometimes it is the putting God first part, or the giving to others part.  It could be drugs, or any part of the the word of wisdom.  It could be pride, tithing, or lying, or even the urge to hurt people.  Some people have really hard things in their lives that seem to be built in, and which are really hard to cope with, let alone overcome.  But God invites us all in, no matter what, even when we have multiple challenges and a bad attitude all rolled into one.  We just have to be willing to try.  And when we go to him, and meet together, we do so in our imperfections, working together to find a way to improve and work our way forward together.  Church is more like a Sinners Anonymous group than most of us would care to admit.  ... But that is okay.  That is why we go.  To help each other.  To work together towards God.  Learning more about him, learning to accept each other and become more Christlike.  God wants us to come the way we are, and learn together to be better.  Today, let's take him up on his offer, whoever we are, whatever our challenges.

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