18 November 2022

"...their prosperity in Christ."

This isn't the first or second or third blog post about prosperity here, but it comes up in the Book of Mormon on a regular basis, including instructions on how to obtain it.  In this blog post, we investigate some actions that can be taken to lose the prosperity that righteousness merits.

First, just a recap of what "prosperity in Christ" looks like: 

4 Nephi 1

23 And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know that the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.

There is something here that makes social scientists jump:  The entire idea that people multiplying happened at the same time as people getting rich.  It works the exact opposite way in our time - when people become rich, they have less children.  This is a rock-hard doctrine of our times, but apparently not a feature among the righteous followers of Jesus Christ.

What was the difference? We can see what happens when things take a turn for the worse.

24 And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world. 

We live in a world awash in pride and the acquisition of the things that show we are prideful and that are worn like a badge of honor these days. After exactly 200 years, the non-prideful, prolific, and in-congruently rich people started wearing expensive clothes and jewelry and feeling pretty prideful doing it. This very quickly proved their undoing - no more peace.

In a world quick to blame the environment, social pressures, one ideology or another, solar flares, or biorhythms for the bad state of things, God and his prophets are quick to reveal the real culprit: personal pride.  If you want the prosperity in life that Christ offers, a prosperity so foreign to our times that you can enjoy a large posterity and lots of money at the same time, you humble yourself before the Lord. You stop considering your own path as superior to the agenda of God. You follow the teachings of prophets and apostles and you start receiving blessings that defy logic. It is amazing to see, especially in your own life.

The path to prosperity is through the Lord Jesus Christ.  When you put yourself between Jesus and your more obedient self through pride, how can the Lord prosper you?  As we follow God's agenda, miraculous blessings will come as surely as the sun rises.

13 November 2022

Compulsion Breeds Contention

I have gotten to a wondrous period in the Book of Mormon record in my slow reading. Christ had recently come to establish his gospel and his church and all the people have converted to discipleship to the Lord and the disciples he chose and ordained to lead his church are already about their assigned work. 

The condition that Mormon describes most during this blessed time is that there was "no contention" in the land. Christ had made the point often that there should be "no disputations" among the people on points of the Lord's doctrine and ordinances. The people seem to have taken this to heart and the conditions at the time was described as "continual peace".

Wouldn't all of us enjoy such a state?

Sadly, in our times, there are evil forces at work which breed many disputations and much contention, leaving no room for peace. If one word could describe this day, it would be "compulsion" to my eyes. This is easy enough to see in political arenas, as parties and factions tussle for dominance and winning the clout to push their chosen agendas forward.

No matter how noble an outcome seems, no goal is so pure and good that it justifies the use of compulsion to force its adoption. For instance, to force others to pay for fetal abortion is wrong. Also, to forcibly prevent protest through "taking a knee" or burning a revered flag is equally wrong. Dictating face-masks is as demonic as criminalizing drug use, each using force to compel compliance against a person's free will.

When people are compelled, even compelled to do good things, no one knows if that compulsed person is actually good at heart and in deed. Only when a person can act under their own power can we see their true selves. Public good can be forced through compulsion but private true good comes from individual liberty to act as each person chooses and one's personal choice to make good things happen.  Truth is even more apparent when the good things we do are in opposition to the standards of our day.  Forced public charity often produces the initially unintended yet politically useful results of resentment, division, entitlement, and hatred.  Private and un-compelled charity often breeds brotherhood and love.

Christ and his followers have always used persuasion to help people to change and reconcile themselves to God. The Holy Ghost, the very Spirit of God, is sent to make the words of truth persuasive to the hearts of all. 

Compulsion or the use of force is not a feature of the agenda of God. If we desire the condition of continual peace with the attending elements of no contention and no gospel disputations, we must know that there can be no compulsion to force these things. Continual peace comes from an internalized commitment to Christ and his gospel gained through persuasion and spiritual confirmation. God will force no one into heaven but he gives us what we need to move along the path toward exaltation and lasting peace.