Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mosiah 18:3 -- On Acceptance and Rejection and Choosing the Right

"And as many as would hear his word he did teach. And he taught them privately, that it might not come to the knowledge of the king. And many did believe his words."
Mosiah 18:3

It varies a lot depending on our circumstances as to whether the gospel is accepted or scorned by the people around us.  We may live with a family or in a circumstance where the gospel is cherished, or in a situation where the gospel is despised.  In Mosiah's situation, it was risking your life to preach anything against the King.  And yet, as Mosiah realized after listening to Abinadi, the truth is still there, whether it is popular or forbidden, and so he taught secretly, spreading God's word to his people.  And he ended up doing so much good.  He may have been the only person that actually believed Abinadi and learned from his instruction and prophecy, but because he did, he spread the message to many others, and made a huge difference to an entire society.
As followers of Christ, we have to be willing to follow the gospel whether it is rebellion or conformity as defined by our societal, or even familial, context.  And that can be hard.  Some of us want to rebel, and some of us want to fit in, and sometimes we switch depending on the circumstances.  With God though, even if we start out learning for rebellion or conformity, we have to take it to another level, as Mosiah did.  He realized the truth of Abinadi's words, and he acted on it.  He tried at the last minute to save Abinadi, and he made the choice to stand up for what was right, even though he knew he could lose everything.  And in our lives we are going to have similar challenges.  People accuse religious people both of being blind followers and cunning deceivers.  Following the commandments is cast either as  not being true to ourselves, or as being too selfish and not loving enough.  No matter what we do, we're going to be criticized.  It's not a fun position to be in, of course, but perhaps it is one that helps us to see that it isn't society that makes things right or wrong.  It isn't whether our neighbors agree with us or not.  God is right, regardless of our opinions.  And whether we gain favor or ridicule by following him, his commandment to follow him remains the same.
Sometimes our reaction to the situation is complex as well.  Sometimes we want to stand up for God so much that we fight for him and reject other people.  On a psychological level, if we reject them, it is easier to take that societal rejection.  We cling to the people who agree with us, and dismiss the ones who don't. :)  It's a very common coping mechanism, and it makes sense on that level.  But we also have to realize that, spiritually, we can't fight rejection with rejection... that way lies madness, right?  The end result would be the whole world flying apart.  And we're trying to build Zion.  Unity, community, togetherness.  Just as God commands us to love our enemies, I think he also encourages us to accept people who reject us.  Maybe religion isn't a good topic to start out with, but we *can* have pleasant, non-confrontational conversations and learn about people that we don't agree with.
Today, let's work on meeting hatred and discrimination with love.  And as we do, maybe we'll learn that in some cases, we're way more alike than we thought we were, and we'll develop some really good friendships. :)

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