Defer To God
The Inner Vessel
The people of Jesus Christ's time and religious background cared more for the cultural aspects of religious life--the cleansing and eating ritual--than the care of family and such.
Christ rebuked them by informing "...there is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man." Mark 7:15
Christ did not mean that it was then okay to ingest any and everything. The lesson He wanted to impress upon those people, and us, is charity and love. His admonition not to eat in unclean places of or partake of vile things did not mean God wanted to create a caste system based on how filthy a person lives.
Christ meant for them and for us to keep ourselves clean and worthy on the outside as well as the inside. Somewhere in the centuries after God gave that initiative, the people left out the inward vessel cleansing, which Christ retaught in Mark.
We clean the inner vessel through repentance.
Recognize Your Own Nothingness
It is true that we have power over nothing. We cannot control the elements that compose our bodies but are subject to them working at the behest of God's natural order of existence. We are truly nothing in that we exist at the will of God.
All things are in motion because He initially placed them in motion and society has evolved to what we have now within the confines of God's graces! People mention this often, but fail to explain it so that we can understand how it can be!
- King Benjamin: First Prophet-King of The Nephite Nat...
King Benjamin began his reign during a perilous time in Nephi history, one of transitions.
- King Benjamin the Prophet: Believe and Do the Word
Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth;
Let's see if we can understand.
In his famous address to the people of his nation, King Benjamin spoke of the joy at which the people accepted to follow Christ and take upon them His name in a covenant. In response to this group's desire to covenant with God, the King instructed,
"For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state" Mosiah 4:2
We do not even need a full understanding of our nothingness and fallen state, but a sense of it as King Benjamin states according to Mormon,
"I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and His matchless power, and His wisdom, and His patience, and His long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping His commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world." Mosiah 4:6-7
King Benjamin addresses many actions we must exhibit when recognizing our nothingness as he continues explaining and recognizing God attributes in comparison to ours.
"And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you." Mosiah 4:8
Once we can realize that we are nothing of our own, we can start to understand God's plan for us to be SOMETHING in His kingdom!
Salvation comes to those of us who recognize our need for help. God wants us to learn all that we can to become like He is, an all-powerful being, but He knows that we must overcome our natures so that we can learn to use the elements as He does. The most valuable tool that God has given to us is our bodies. In these bodies, we can learn to become like God, but first, we must subdue them so that the passions of the body do not rule our lives. We overcome our bodies through the repentance process.
Blank Slate Effect
We will look at the bold words and phrases in greater detail, but to provide an analogy to explain nothingness further, would like to compare it to the birth of a baby.
Once the child is born, he or she is a blank slate—using a phrase a friend of mine used while teaching this same concept to me. A baby is nothing but instincts when he or she enters life. To the child, the parents are everything as they teach him or her—fill the child with information and teachings. With God, we are like the infant.
Compared to the parents the infant is nothing—by far not as glorious, knowledgeable and powerful. Infants cannot walk with grace or care for themselves. We want our children to grow up and be like us, responsible adults. We groom them to become as we think they should with the hope that they will accept our instruction.
We cannot exist without God. We do not care for ourselves, but the biosphere that holds the atmosphere to this planet was fashioned over eons by God. The ecosystems that exist on the planet were ordered by God.
We are not as glorious, knowledgeable and powerful as God. We spiritually are infants in comparison and therefore are nothing. God wants to groom us to become like He is and provides us with all the implements of instruction in this life to do so—things that we call trials, failure, sorrow, and tragedy; in addition to peace, success, joy and blessings.
Why Yield To God
The simple answer is that He knows more. Just like children yield to parents, we should yield to God. It is easy for a parent to grant the request of a child who he or she knows will hearken, or listen to him or her and obey.
Parents are more willing to give things and responsibilities to their children if they know those children will follow instruction and honor requests the parents provide. The same is true of God. If we are willing to obey His commandments, he is more willing to give us answers to our prayers.
Yielding to God is not becoming mindless, but submitting to superior intellect. Even if we do agree to yield to Him, God does not take away our agency. We are still the final decision in every act. God may speak, but we choose whether we will act.
The biggest difference between a mortal parent and God is that mortals will revert to ungodly measures to get their children to obey—such as force. Parents are not perfect and do not always want the natural consequences of actions to prevail. God always uses persuasion and is willing to let us learn from our mistakes each and every time. I do not want to take the comparison to extremes. Any good parent will prevent his or her child from harming him or herself.
God does not force anyone to do His will. He will encourage and actively persuade, but the choice is always yours. What better person to yield to than one who will never take advantage of our loyalty to Him?
We decide what we will do, and God decides how to bless us for it. If we obey for blessings, that is fine, If we obey out of love, that is fine. We must start somewhere to start trusting God. If we do so just to see if it will work, seeking for a sign, that is better than seek not at all. If our intentions are genuine, God will reward our effort and help us understand the reward. Our prayers God will hear if we yield to and accept his divine leadership.
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© 2013 Rodric Anthony Johnson