Monday, March 27, 2017

A Beautiful Explanation of Not Judging Others

A friend of mine shared the following, and I want to share it here. It is one of the most beautiful explanations of the theological reason we should not judge others I have ever heard.
Background: When I was a young child, someone harmed me in a terrible way. To date I have never harbored anger towards this person. Part of that comes from the fact that it never occurred to me to BE angry. Another part is that I can look at this person's life now and see what a sad condition it is in. I pray for this person's safety. I pray for happiness.

Every Psych book says that I should be in counseling. I should be going through 12 steps. I should be in bad shape. Everyone says that I have the right to be angry. I should demand justice. And, I guess in some ways I certainly could seek justice and I could be angry. I'm justified in doing so, right?
But I am not and it isn't even a dilemma on my part. I have forgiven this person.

So, now we think, "Okay, they'll be punished in the hereafter."


But, here is how I picture judgement day (sort of):

Say we are at the bar of judgement, and those whom we have harmed are allowed to come and air grievances. Maybe they can petition the court to punish us. Perhaps we are reminded of those wrongs before our accusers show know, to prepare our case.  Either way, let's say that we can see the court docket, and when we see someone who wronged us, we can show up at the appointed time and ask for justice.

If this scenario is correct, I will not be found pressing charges against the person who harmed me. In fact, I may show up as a character witness to point out the good things and charitable acts that I've witnessed from this person. Maybe I'll not even mention the harm done to me. Of course, this person will have other "crimes" that will be brought up in court, but I won't be an accuser.

Now, when it's my turn at the bar to be judged, I sure hope that the people whom I've harmed choose not to "press charges" against me either.  
So, I guess I see the Savior act in a similar way that He did when the woman taken in adultery was brought before him. He was asked to be a judge in that situation. At some point, He asked the woman where her accusers were. There were none...for that crime.
Maybe He was then an advocate and encouraged her to change her ways.

When our time comes, may we not have accusers either.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Yes, We Are Our Brothers' and Sisters' Keepers

Remember: It was Cain (a murderer) who replied to God, when asked where Abel was, "Am I my brother's keeper?"  
There are hundreds of verses and passages throughout the Bible (and other religious texts) that say, quite explicitly, that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers in some way and to some extent. 
It is the determination of the way and the extent where there can be reasonable discussion and disagreement. (For Mormons, however, King Benjamin's sermon sets an incredibly high bar for refusal.) For Christians to deny their responsibility to help "keep" God's children (any of them), at all or minimally, however, is a direct denial of the ministry and teachings of Jesus, of Nazareth. 
Quoting Cain in doing so is the height of irony.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What Does the Sacrament Prayer Really Say: Not What We Often Teach

[quote="squarepeg"]The Sacrament Prayer says that we will always have His spirit to be with us if we take His name upon us, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. Maybe that's an easy one to write off as impossible since I definitely don't remember Him always. Sometimes I'm just thinking about something else and not of Him, because if I thought of Him all the time, I couldn't focus to help my kids with their math, couldn't get through the grocery checkout, couldn't make phone calls to the health insurance company about confusing bills, etc. And I break commandments all the time, every day, in spite of my best efforts to keep them. I also developed an allergy to wheat and can't take the Sacrament bread at all anymore. But I actually don't know of anyone who can keep the promises we make when we take the Sacrament, so maybe none of us is entitled to the attached blessings, either?[/quote]

Is that really what the prayers say? Are there "ifs" in there? I read it like this (emphasis added):

We usually talk about the Sacrament prayer as an if/then statement. For example, with regard to the bread:

IF we remember Jesus' body - and IF we are willing to take his name upon us - and IF we always remember him - and IF we keep his commandments - THEN we will always have his Spirit to be with us.

However, that is not what the words actually say, in and of themselves.

Here is the prayer in its entirety, with some holding for emphasis:

"O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it,

- that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father,
- that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son,
- (that they) always remember him
- and (that they) keep his commandments which he has given them;
- that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

We make NO promises in those words, and neither does the priest. The  priest asks God to bless the bread (or water as the case may be, recognizing the wording is slightly different but essentially the same) to ALL THOSE who partake of it (no worthiness standard implied) that four things we are willing to do and receive will happen: 

1) we eat in remembrance of the body (or blood) of the Son;
2) we are willing to take the name of the Son;
3) we always remember him;
4) we may have the Spirit to be with us.

Again, nowhere do those partaking promise to do anything; rather, the priest asks the Father to bless everyone who partakes with a special blessing because of what they are willing to do - regardless of whether or not they do this even things.

I know that is not the view of the mainstream, but it is a literal interpretation of the words themselves.