Both messages today focus on one main point – get up and get moving towards doing good. Both Doing Good is Simple and the Book of Mormon are about this today. It constantly surprises me when that happens. It is just a tender mercy to me that the book that chooses me is the right one at the right time. It’s no coincidence.
First, let’s start with a definition, shall we? The word of the day is apathy. Chris says about this one word that “An apathetic Christian is a deathblow to those who are suffering.” He then goes on to explain why. Of course it’s true. One of our calls as a member of Christ’s family is to reach out and help those around us. If we lack interest in doing so and aren’t concerned about the welfare of others, then we are the ones who are losing out. There is a part of us that isn’t worshipping God because we aren’t caring for His children. Chris likens this concept to being in a rowboat and having someone in the water needing to be saved. Who in their right mind would just sit and watch that person drown? I can’t even imagine it! However, some might say, that is exactly what many of us do on a daily basis. How many times are we prompted to help in some small way? I know I am and I can’t possibly be the only one. The good news about this “helping” is that we are all called to do different things at different times. God can use us all, but He needs each of us to use the talents He’s given us to do some small things. It makes it sound easy, but yet, there’s always a part of me holding back – “What would He want of me?” There’s a fear in being willing to do anything. I suppose it goes back to trust that it won’t be too much for me in my life and faith that God has a plan. What a great thought!
Thanksgiving is a natural time of year to begin thinking about service. Heaven knows there are so many opportunities to provide help this time of year and how wonderful that help is, but we need to be mindful the rest of the year too. Chris goes on to say (I’m in chapter four) two important things about all of this service we are called to give. First,
Ultimately, Jesus desires you and me to follow him, embrace his ways, and mature in the faith.
It is time we stop allowing the pressures of culture to dictate how we live our lives.
All I can add is…amen.
I know I said that the Book of Mormon and Doing Good is Simple had the same message today, but they come at it from two different positions. Chapter eight of first Nephi talks about another of Lehi’s visions. This one is commonly called “the vision of the tree of life.” Hang in here with me while I try my best to explain. So, in the vision, Lehi is alone walking in a dark and dreary waste. When he can’t take it any more, he calls out to the Lord for mercy. Suddenly, as he does, he finds himself in a large and spacious field where he can see a few things. He notices first a tree with fruit so white that it was brighter than anything he had ever seen. He decided to taste the fruit and it was sweet and delicious and filled his soul with great joy. As he was enjoying the fruit, he looked around to see if his family was nearby so they could taste the fruit too. Instead of his family, he saw a river flowing fairly close to the tree and saw part of his family at the head of it. Lehi yelled for them to come taste the fruit and they did. Of course, he wanted Laman and Lemuel to have some of it too, but they didn’t want any and wouldn’t even go to their family.
As Lehi is looking around, he notices more people and a strange thing – a rod of iron along a narrow path that leads straight to this tree he’s standing under with part of his family. There are many other people he sees trying to get to the tree too. Some of the groups are holding tightly to this rod of iron and making their way to the tree. Some let go and wander off. Some get lost in a mist of darkness that appears. There are also some that go into a big building on the other side of the river. As Lehi is looking at the building, he notices that the people are finely dressed in expensive clothing and they are leaning out the windows pointing their fingers at the group of people by the tree and making fun of them. The building people were causing some of the people holding onto the rod, trying to get to the tree, to be embarrassed and they let go and wandered off too.
Of course, as Lehi was sharing his vision, he was immediately concerned about his two rebellious sons and what the vision might mean for them. He shared this vision, witnessed to them what he thought it meant, pled with them to keep the commandments, and then said no more about it. Now, I don’t know about you, but this is such an important story about parenting to me. I know there is a lot of meaning to the vision that has nothing to do with parenting, and we will get to that next week because Nephi actually goes on to explain what it was all about, but it really struck me this morning about how to teach your children about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s really all we can do too – teach, testify, plead, and then let them decide. It’s all we can do for anyone. It’s up to each of us to figure out where we stand in belief and obedience to God.
So, how does this fit in with being apathetic? What was the first thing Lehi did after tasting the fruit? He called for his family. The first thing he wanted to do was to share this great discovery with them. As he accomplished this, he then saw that there were others coming forward to join them under the tree. God wants us to take care of our family first, but then, we must reach out. No, it doesn’t say Lehi reached out to help, but he was made aware of the need other people had of being there. If the vision had gone on, he probably would have been helping I imagine. It’s the same for us. Once we taste the sweetness of God’s love, we have to share it with our family, and then those around us. We need to help lead and guide and encourage and that even means the homeless or the poor or even the poor on the other side of the world. It doesn’t matter where, it just matters that we do something because God loves them too and they are our brothers and sisters. They may not sit on a pew and worship with us on Sunday, but they might want to be there and they might just need a bottle of water to get started down the path. We just don’t know. We can trust that God does and that whatever small part we play may be helping someone get into those church doors and closer to our God. Their God, our God. He’s the same one and we are all His children. Oh, how grateful that makes me feel during this season of thanksgiving!