I've been listening to "Antonym" - a series that our church did back in Feb. 2007 - before Steve and I were there. For me, I've been hearing a powerful message about legalism - although I do also believe others would hear a seperate message about some powerful issues within today's society and culture.
It's been very helpful to remind me of some issues I've felt very burdened with. My favorite line so far is to the effect that "outward adherence does not equal internal obediance" or something like that.
This morning, when the LDS mom I babysit for dropped off her son I felt very prompted
to ask how her husband - a convert coming up on his first baptism anniversary (this means temple recommend "should" be coming . . .) was doing with achieving his Melchizedek Priesthood so they could ultimately go to the temple. Apparently I hit on a topic that was waiting to spill over.
Greg doesn't seem interested in achieving this - he was dragged his feet about attending the "classes". Since Steve received his Melchizedek Priesthood back in 2005, he didn't have to attend any classes with a "supervisor" (what the heck - when did men receive supervisors in the church - for taking classes - outside of someone who oversaw their work in Home Teaching?). I tried to hide this surprise but she explained to me that the whole supervisor and class thing was relatively new - they brought it into effect when they also came out with the, "Preach my Gospel" - which was awhile ago. I don't know why I didn't know anything about these supervisors or classes.
I digress . . .
She began talking about how he would say that he wanted to progress, take his classes, and "become temple worthy" - I held my tongue. Now that I'm understanding (progressive tense here) what Jesus did for, my skin crawls at the term, "temple worthy" since it really shows no understanding of grace or the gospel. Yet, didn't do anything to become temple worthy. He had only attended two of his classes - that she scheduled for him and wasn't attending anymore. He hadn't stopped dipping (aka - chewing tobacco). He just didn't want to talk about it and when they did, it became a fight. Whoa - the Spirit had led me down a road I wasn't sure how to progress on. What was the best approach?
I thought about how I would have reacted while waiting for Steve to get his priesthood and went from there. Antonym suddenly came to mind. I explained the overall message of the series and timidly offered her the chance to borrow or have it. As I explained the series, legalism, and what it really was - a heart issue she become involved in the conversation. Nodding her head, sharing examples of what Greg was going through - what he'd say and what he'd mean - but as soon as I offered her the series, she shut me back down. Eh! Even if this series didn't open her eyes to the legalism in the LDS church, it would at least helped her and Greg understand to get their hearts in a relationship with Jesus - not try to use the adherence to actions as the "relationship".
Then I tried to advise her to revisit Jesus' suffering and investigate the early Latter Day Saints. I reminded her that Jesus was beyond human recognition when He carried His cross to Calvary. That giving up something like dip is minute in comparison and with the right heart focus on Jesus then it wouldn't be so hard to give up the dip - because the heart would be guiding the journey for the right reason. Of course, when I mentioned Jesus' cross - she flinched. I also want her to investigate the early Saints for two reasons - one, to help them understand their history better - that sacrifices were made by these early pioneers and probably not originally because of legalism. The second, perhaps they'll understand that there is a difference between the white washed history of that the church promotes and the real history they include on their own websites with a little digging (really, when was the last time you heard the LDS church promote Joseph's 24 wives - could have sworn there were 32 but this is all the family.org lists . . .) However, speaking of - this year 2008, the RS/PH every 1st and 3rd Sunday will be learning from "Teachings of the Prophet . . . Joseph Smith" this year. Since they're only $2 at Deseret, I'll be picking up a copy. I'm very interested in what exactly will be taught. Who knows, maybe it'll open some doors to talk with Heather a little more.
Either way, this family continues to need prayer. I really hope that I can get them to listen to this series and really take to heart the message - the relationship with Christ isn't external, it's all internal. And point them, flinching and all, to the cross.