10 March 2023

I Don't Know You or You Don't Know Me from Sicily

At the end of the day, we need to have an acceptable way to approach Deity.  My thought is that we should treat God with the kind of deference someone would give to a powerful mafia boss.

Modern times have become very "flip" and everyone has an expectation that 'respectful' talk is very casual.  In my study of the Judeo-Christian God, one should not kid around with him or treat him like some very accommodating fellow or a buddy.

For instance, my wife is God's daughter and that worries me. I try (and often fail) to treat her very well because I dread my future meeting with her father if I haven't taken appropriate care of his little girl. This simplifies my life quite handily and my wife tends to get what she wants as well.  The family credo 'keep Mom happy' is a service to God and a statement of self-preservation.

Remember some things about our relationship with God.  Although we call him "father", we should never treat the Lord with the casual disrespect that is typically shown to our mortal parents. 

  • He owns everything.
  • You are accountable to him for your use of his gifts, which is all you have.
  • He demands your loyalty and obedience.  
  • He rewards good and profitable stewards lavishly.
  • He punishes bad or selfish stewards by taking gifts away and giving them to others instead.
Judgement is more about facing the boss and making an accounting of your conduct with his things than it is like a court and someone defending you.

It is made all the more poignant by what God has given you:

  • a body.
  • a world that provides air and all other useful resources that we not only need, but desire.
  • plants and animals that feed us, clothe us, and give us ideas (birds to planes, for instance). 

Loyalty is greater than blood.  You may be a child of God, but your loyalty keeps you in the family and blessed. 

I watched the movie "The Freshman" recently.  It was funny yet again but made poignant by the recent thoughts that God may very well be similar to the Marlon Brando character that parodies Don Corleone of "The Godfather" fame.  As many times as I have been "tricked" by inspiration from God to be somewhere and do something that was necessary, I saw the same activity as the premise of this film.  Brando never raised his voice but the college kid played by Matthew Broderick was justifiably intimidated and therefore easily shepherded into the scam being pulled.  There were rewards of money, vehicles, a fiancee, and even fraternal attention lavished for the college kid's simple yet successful performance of interesting tasks.  For those that do his business, we see several analogous rewards from God.

God doesn't tell us everything, which should shock no one.  It might be unpleasant to many if God metaphorically cracks nuts with his bare hands in interviews, has a quiet spiritual voice of authority, and mentions loyalty all the time.  When I ponder it, the personification of our Heavenly Father could fit this mold quite readily and makes far more sense given what we know of him and his ways than typical sallow-faced or kindly depictions.

Matthew 25

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. 

"I don't know you" - God and Christ will wipe you from their minds (at the very least) if you don't obey them loyally.  Sounds like something that a Godfather figure would say and do.

You promised to follow him (Christ) and accept what he offers you by a covenant (stronger than just a pinky promise).  Now, you wander around blindly with only the goal of NOT following him, denying God and his Christ, and ignoring your committment.

But, wait!  The Joseph Smith translation of the Bible switches things around, as expanded upon by Elder Bednar:

JST Matt. 25:11 … Verily I say unto you, Ye know me not.

It is like the Lord is saying that people don't understand God and Christ and how they work.  Just as the world of "The Godfather" may be alien to us, so is the understanding of many toward the heavenly realm. 

In support of the idea that we might profit from treating Heavenly Father something like a Godfather and Jesus Christ like his very loyal "capo", I bring in the parable of the wedding feast:

Matthew 22

11 ¶ And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like this according to Jesus and verse 13 sounds like something along the lines of wearing a pair of "cement shoes" and being dumped in a river.  The improperly clothed man was not supposed to be there and I can see the Don ordering such as execution. This isn't just some tommygun riddling you with holes and sending one to Saint Peter - it is 'outer darkness' with eternal pain.

For my part, firm loyalty will get you much further in God's eyes than any current manifestation of love.  Don Corleone honors loyalty with great rewards, wouldn't be manipulated by love, and I think our God is of a similar vein.