Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mosiah 18:8 -- On the Fold of God

"And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;"
Mosiah 18:8

This verse is an incomplete thought, I know.  It continues, asking them more of what they desire, and then suggesting, if they want all of these things, that they join God's church through baptism.  I stopped after just this verse because there is so much already here without progressing to the other questions (although feel more than free to read more in the chapter; it is great).

The first question here is do we desire to enter the fold of God?  We know that Christ is the Good Shepherd (John 10:14), and in John 10:27 it tells us that Christ knows his sheep, they hear his voice and follow him.  In the verse before, Christ tells people that they don't believe because they aren't his sheep (10:26).  That's interesting, because we usually think, wait.  Isn't *everyone* his sheep?  Didn't God create us all?  ... And I think that the answer to that is today's verse.  We choose to be God's sheep, and come into his fold.

God has always had the whole world of people to love and nurture, so why has he ever talked about a chosen people, or about the elect?  I think it is exactly this.  His chosen people have also chosen HIM.  They want him as their God, and they look to him for peace and protection.  They are willing to do the things that he asks (like bearing one another's burdens, and other things that it talks about after this verse).

Does this mean that the atonement only applies to his sheep?  No, definitely not.  The atonement applies to everyone, and because we made it to earth by choosing God in the preexistence, resurrection and eternal life are a free Gift from God for all of us.  But the part of the atonement that offers us forgiveness from sins, and promises us that we can overcome ourselves, improve, and come back into the presence of God... that part we have to do something about, and it's kind of like choosing to be in God's fold.  If our father came over to our house and rang the doorbell, holding a present for us worth zillions of dollars (let's call it a pearl for some nice symbolism), and we didn't answer the door, or we locked him out and refused to even talk to him... would it matter that the gift was there for the taking?  We can't put it in the bank or use it if we never accept it... so effectively, it's just like rejecting it, or throwing it out into the street, because we'll never get it.  Some of us might even accept the gift, and place it, still nicely wrapped, on the mantel, never opening it because we just want to admire the wrapping paper.  It's not going to do us much good in that case either.  We might be able to say that we have accepted God's gift, but saying it and doing something about it are very different, and just glancing up at it occasionally isn't going to get it working in our lives either.

Today, let's accept God's gift and be willing to enter his fold.  Let's accept God as our shepherd, and learn of him.  Let's do something about the gospel.  Let's act on our belief, and not just let the gospel sit up on the shelf like a shiny bauble.  Let's be willing to be an example of the believers, and take action to belong to the Lord's church.  As we do, we become God's chosen and his elect, because we elect ourselves by joining his fold and becoming his sheep.  Not sheep in some blind follower way, but sheep that know and are willing to follow the voice of the true shepherd.  The one who laid down his life for us, and will lead us to everything good.

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