Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sunday School Lesson Recap: Meaning and Purpose of Modern Commandments

I just spent over 30 minutes typing the lesson summary for today, and I lost it somehow when I tried to post it.  Thus, I am writing an outline form summary this time. We talked about each component of the outline below, to various degrees.

The Meaning and Purpose of Modern Commandments, including Things We Often Don't Call Commandments

- Started by repeating that there are things I see as commandments and things that I see as rules built on commandments - and that the key is determining if there is a way to follow a commandment or a rule and be in compliance with the two great commandments to love God, self and others. Used the earring example from Pres. Hinckley's talk (where he said explicitly that he was expressing his own opinion) to show how non-commands can morph into being seen as commands by overzealous members. Referenced the Biblical concept of building hedges about the law. 

- Asked students to help me list commandments we hadn't discussed yet. Limited list to a few we could discuss adequately.  Final list was: Tithing; Word of Wisdom; Church Involvement (combined phrase by me from "Attend Church" and "Callings in Church"); Share the Gospel; Prayer.

1) Tithing

Meaning = "a tenth" (Stressed that there is no official calculation method dictated by the Church - that different members pay on gross, net, "increase", weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, annually, whenever they get money, etc.)

Purpose = from a student: Detachment and humility

Purpose = I added "Fund the Church" (Discussed Old Testament model and modern similarities and differences; discussed exactly what tithing funds and what it doesn't.)

2) Word of Wisdom

Meaning = Read verse 2; discussed "temporal salvation" (related to time; worldly; temporary)

Purpose = From verses 3-4, protecting the weakest saints from evil and designs of conspiring men (Described scene with men conspiring to market products to increase and spread addiction, to make more money, even while knowing the terrible effects on the consumers who buy the addictive products - planning early death, in many cases, specifically to make money. Used example of people who handed out chewing tobacco to elementary students at the county fair in Alabama when we lived there. Those are evil designs, created through real conspiracy.)

3) Church Involvement

Meaning = participating in the Church organization (Stressed that participation to whatever degree is possible is the standard, and that this standard is not definable to anyone except the individual participants. Thus, "properly involved" might be participation in every scheduled meeting or it might be someone who can't leave their house but calls or writes letters or knits presents or smiles at everyone they meet. Also discussed, again, my situation in Missouri when we couldn't attend anything but Sunday meetings and Wednesday activities - and my High Council assignments, due to our financial situation.)

Purpose = Broadening circle of friends to love and accept beyond what is natural (Establishing Zion in a real way, like the orchestra described in Elder Wirthlin's "Concern for the One" - valuing all instruments instead of just the piccolos.)

Purpose = Running the Church organization and not making 20% of the membership do 80% of the work.

4) Share the Gospel

Meaning = Teaching faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. (Discussed the practical and conceptual difference between "sharing the Gospel" and "doing missionary work".)

Purpose = Help people return to God and be like Him.

Purpose = Share what is valuable with others. (Discussed young man in class who will be baptized soon and other young man in class who invited him to come to church and learn about the Gospel and the Church. It was a very touching discussion to have a young man say, sincerely, "I asked him because I care about him," and to have the other young man say, "I am here because I want to be closer to God than I've been in the past.")

Talked about why we don't have more people in our church meetings who are different than we are in obvious ways - about why we tend to share the Gospel with people who are like us and with whom we are comfortable. Asked them to look outside their normal circle of friends when sharing the Gospel.

5) Pray

Meaning = "talking to God" and/or "communicating with God" (Discussed difference and stressed that everyone prays in whatever way they feel they can communicate with God. Shared that I have no problem having a prayer in my heart always - that I try to have and open heart and mind, to send thoughts and feelings heavenward whenever I have them - but that I struggle with formal, kneeling, spoken prayer. I understand the value of both, but the fact that I am praying continually makes it hard for me to break from that to verbalize formal prayers individually.)

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