Sunday, April 24, 2016

Alma 31:21-23 -- On Rejecting the Rameumptom

"Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand.
Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.
Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner."
Alma 31:21-23

This is part of an interesting story in the Book of Mormon about the Zoramites. This is the description of the Rameumptom from earlier in the chapter: "For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person" (verse 13).  As we can see in these verses, they all repeated the same prayers, and that was the extent of their worship.

I think some of this is tempting.  We sometimes want to believe that we are chosen without having to work for it, and that we are naturally better than other people, and just naturally know more... feels like less pressure when God automatically favors you.  And the praying once a week thing is tempting too.  When the only maintenance your relationship with God takes is memorizing one prayer, that is a lot easier than messier real life. :)

Despite the tempting nature of what the Zoramites were doing though, they weren't accomplishing anything spiritual.  They were just convincing themselves that they checked the "church" box in their lives, and could move on.  But having a relationship with God is kind of like other relationships with family and friends.  We can't just send a form letter to God once a week and think that makes us best buddies.  Additionally, the whole "Thanks for making us better than everyone else" part (actually the actual words from verse 17 of the chapter are "thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell"), along with the physical symbolism of standing above everyone and everything else, I think shows the inherent pride of the whole situation.  They weren't really praying to God as much as they were praying to themselves.  That's probably how it got so popular in the first place.  It became a mutual admiration society, where everyone got to go and say "hey, look how cool I am" with other people feeding that belief.

So, we look at the Zoramites and we shake our heads... wow, how unenlightened they were. :)  But today, let's take it one step further, and look at our own lives and our own church habits.  Do we perhaps have some Zoramite habits in our lives?  Do we think that we are better than other people?  Do we worship God just once a week?  Does our church participation amount to a mutual admiration society, or are we joining more of a sinners anonymous, trying to help each other find our way back to God?  Do we take the time to pray sincerely and specifically, or do we just repeat the same thing every time we talk to God?  Let's think about these things, reject that internal Rameumptom, and talk with God (more than just once) about how to cleanse ourselves from any  Zoramite tendencies we might find. :)

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