Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Faith is the Word We Live

I was reading A Photographic Object Lesson on Desire and felt like talking about the strength of religious faith. This is especially important in a world where faith is either hard to come by or dangerous. Yet, for a Latter-day Saint (like any believer in God) faith is what holds us together. Lose your faith and you are not really a Latter-day Saint, even if you say you are Mormon by culture. Religion is not a culture. When it becomes a culture without religious conviction than it becomes worthless.

And that, I am afraid, is where too many Mormons get caught up in modern Western Society. Too many scientists, philosophers, professors, and millionairs think too highly of themsleves. What they can see and demostrate becomes what they live. They find joy in what cannot last. This is not new, and Jesus explained the situation:

5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?

10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

16 ¶ No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.

17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.

18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
-- Luke 8: 5-18

Religion is a faith and not a science. Ultimately, however, it is because faith is the only way we can learn to live eternity on our own. God could teach us all about everything. what that doesn't do is allow us to decide for ourselves and make personal decisions with our own observations. Left alone we become our true selves. I do not pretend to understand the specifics, but it seems clear from the Scriptures that faith is what makes things work in the hereafter, with knowledge only the groundwork. Knowledge is the engine, but Faith is the gas that makes it run.

The opposite of faith is fear and doubt. If we have faith we shall not fear, because we have something that is untouchable by pundits and unbelievers. This isn't to say faith is not hard won and hard kept. What it is saying is that we cannot give up on what we believe because someone else tells us we are wrong. Let them think that. They can only kill the body. Only we can let them kill the soul.

We live too much in a time, at least for Latter-day Saints, when our trials are more of our own making. Satan has no more power than we give him and we have given him too much. It is time to reject the mocking of those who think faith is simply a desease of the mind or self-dilusion. According to Moroni, such attitudes are self-delusional themselves:

19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

Deciding if something is real or not is what FAITH is all about. Reject what you feel is right because you could be wrong is the first step toward rejecting God. And that, I believe, is the attitude that closes someone off to Revelation and Miracles. Those who deny the prophets, question the scriptures, and close themselves off to a living God do not know the power of the Holy Ghost. God will let them have their materialistic desires. True Latter-day Saints live by Faith, Hope, and Charity as believers. Knowledge is mostly reserved for the day we die.

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