Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We teach them how...

"Are we like sheep...
Are we like sheep!
Have gone astray..."
-Handel's Messiah-

For three years, every Christmas I had the blessing of performing Handel's Messiah with the rest of LVA's choir. It was hard work, almost two months of rehearsals, but so rewarding in the end.

There is one song, it echoes in part scripture. The four parts all go their own ways singing the lines quoted above. When the parts come back together, solemnly they sing, "For the Lord hath laid upon Him, hath laid on Him.... The inequity of us all..."

Even while an agnostic - terribly angry at God - this song always choked me up. Recently, I checked out an ex-Mormon support group and the one reoccurring theme I've found within their folds - next to anger - is the inability to believe again. They mostly believe in a Creator but are terrified of being "duped" or "hoodwinked" again. I can most certainly understand these feelings. But with one member there seems to be this almost rage against any and all leaders of any organized religion. It made me ponder Handel's song - how we are all sheep and we are without a Shepherd or anyone to guide or lead us.

While watching the movie, Serenity there is a conversation between River and her "teacher". Another student asks, "Why wouldn't anyone want to be civilized?"

River answers, "Because we meddle. Telling them what to do... inside their minds..."

Smiling the teacher answers, "No River. We don't tell them what to think, we teach them how."

I think this teacher's comment sums up LDS teachings as a whole. They don't tell us what to think - they simply teach us how to think. Don't think about sin - or pray about it - because then it can lead you deeper into sin (ex: masturbation - young men are encouraged not to pray over this matter). Don't associate with those who are sinful, they will bring you down to their level. Don't enter unholy places - you will loose the companionship of the Holy Spirit. And on it goes.

Therefor, I understand why these ex-Mormons are fearfully angry about possibly becoming a sheep blindly following the devil in a new suit - a pastor, preacher, and so forth. Yet, I know that with Jesus - this isn't the case. We're not following a man - we're following God. Within the body, there are certain gifts - Pastors being one. And yes, to a point we must trust them and have faith. Yet, we are never ever to believe upon their words as scripture instead of God's Word.

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan-it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God." - Improvement Era 1945

When a Pastor speaks - one doesn't have to fall in line with him/her. When a teacher speaks, the same applies. That isn't to say that we should not heed leaders' advice or always be skeptical about them, but if we are seeking the Lord daily then we should trust Him to lead us always. I'm not one to really talk since I did wholeheartedly follow and believe the LDS church and it's teachings and doctrines. But I just have to have faith that the Lord will lead me and keep me from danger and/or false teachers or doctrines.

The Trinity was incredibly hard for me to accept. I didn't want to blindly follow just because everyone thought it was right. Everyone I knew and was close to, just knew that Joseph Smith was a Prophet and the LDS church was the one and only true church on this Earth. During a small group discussing the Trinity, when someone asked why everyone didn't believe in it (paraphrasing since this was more than a month ago now) Steve blurted out what we were both thinking, you can't just blindly follow - the Trinity (for example) isn't crystal clear for everyone - and yet to many Christians, it seems that it is. But if you've been "taught how to think" and part of that is the Trinity is a vulgar manmade false doctrine - then letting go of that can be incredibly hard.

"Fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice, shame on me." Perhaps all of us ex-Mormons carry this mentality - whether consciously or not - along with us. Something we have to eventually face and let go of - but we don't want to be fooled again. I have learned to be grateful for those around me who have had patience with me - with my challenge or relearning how to think so to speak.

The Lord Jesus came and healed people - it doesn't say SOME illnesses - but all. This doesn't just mean being physically sick, but mentally and emotionally unwell too. For those of us who carry a "chip on the shoulder" or however you think of it, Jesus can heal it. I'm not saying it's easy - we have to truely give these things over to Jesus and I don't know how to do that. My will is always something I struggle to overcome - but then there are clear moments, the sunlight streaming through the clouds, where I can clearly see God healing me - bit by bit. I just have to look.

In the midst of the storm, do I see Jesus? Or do I, like the apostles, see only the winds and the rain? I'm learning how to see God in the midst of everything, but it's hard. I've been sick for almost a week now - but I only caught on recently that the Lord was using this sickness to help me strengthen me in an area I was previously drowning in. He had heard my prayers and was answering them.

Am I afraid that I'll get duped again? That I've simply gone, "from the frying pan into the fire" as a few ex-Mormons have stated? Sure. But in the end, the only real question I have to ask myself is, how much do I trust Jesus and then go forward.

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