Sunday, July 10, 2016

Alma 27:8 -- On Total Commitment to God

"And the king said unto him: Yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, we will go down unto our brethren, and we will be their slaves until we repair unto them the many murders and sins which we have committed against them."
Alma 27:8

This is the king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, later called the Ammonites, speaking. They were a group of Lamanite people who had been converted to the gospel through the missionary efforts of the sons of Mosiah.  Being born and raised Lamanites, they were basically raised to hate Nephites (and in some ways, the Nephites were the same, which is why it was such a big deal that missionaries even came to the Lamanite lands at all).  This was largely a religious dispute... two groups that were genetically and religiously related through common ancestors, but who interpreted the past differently and who each claimed to be correct.  As such, they had participated in raids and wars against the Nephites.

After being converted, they were so zealous in trying to repair the wrongs that they had done that they vowed never to fight again, and they buried their weapons of war as a symbol of the covenant they made with God never to harm or steal, but to heal and give.  So, when their fellow Lamanites started attacking and raiding them, they went out to meet them and just prayed, and a large number of them were killed, but it changed other people, when they realized that they were just butchering unarmed people, and a great number of the attackers stopped, and knelt down with them, and became converted as well.

Some though, weren't going to stop, and so Ammon encourages them to leave the Lamanite lands and join the Nephites.  They are understandably scared about doing this... the Nephites could just kill them for being Lamanites, and so the first solution the king thinks of is this... that they will be slaves to them until they can make up for what they have done in the past.  ... It doesn't work out that way, because the Nephites have a law against slavery, but I think about the amazing dedication that this group of people had to repentance and to doing the right thing.  They were willing to kneel down and allow an army to kill them.  They were willing to be slaves.  They were willing to do anything that the Lord asked, to change any part of their lives, to give up everything they had ever known.  In comparison, I feel like my dedication could use some work.

After this, the Lord tells them to go up and join the Nephites and rely on their mercy.  That's got to be scary to go join a people that you and your ancestors have hated for many generations, and a large portion of which probably hate you in return.  But as soon as the King knows that the Lord has commanded it, they do it.  They were completely committed to doing as God asks.

Today, let's strive to be as humble and accepting of God's will, and as fearful to sin or harm others as the Ammonites were.  Let's stop holding on to our souvenirs of hell and our prideful resistance of God's will, and let's be open to giving up or changing *anything* about our lives, as God asks it.  I think we are often held back from blessings because we are holding back with the Lord.  Let's explore the (admittedly scary) total commitment option, and see how radically our lives can change.

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