We were in Sunday School reviewing Jeremiah chapter 7. It’s a powerful account of Jeremiah being told to stand in the gate to the temple and tell the people that they had to repent and amend their ways because their temple wasn’t going to save them.
Jeremiah said the following:
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.
For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;
If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:
Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.
I raised my hand to comment because I found it so interesting that these people worshiped their temple as a symbol of being a chosen people, and yet, their lives did not reflect that of a temple-like people. The way they lived did not match the holiness that should prevail in the house of the Lord.
As I was mentioning this in class, thoughts came to my mind and the Spirit prompted me to go one step further and talk about how, as members of the Church, we love to talk about how we have living prophets, and the Book of Mormon, and all of these new temples that are being built, but are they just status symbols? Or are they tools that we actually use in our lives to give us strength, and power, and protection.
President Nelson has mentioned multiple times that fact that increased temple building is great, but it’s never going to mean anything unless we are spending more time in the temple:
My dear brothers and sisters, construction of these temples may not change your life, but your time in the temple surely will. In that spirit, I bless you to identify those things you can set aside so you can spend more time in the temple.
It’s electric every time President Nelson announces new temples. But then what? Do we go regularly to the temple if we are in proximity to one? Do we have a current temple recommend? If not, why not? Do we study our temple covenants and find strength and power in living them? What changes can you make today to act on prophetic counsel to spend more time in the temple and do so regularly?
The Book of Mormon vs Social Media
How much do we love the Book of Mormon? How about you reading this article? Do you read the Book of Mormon as we are asked to do by our prophets? Or do you spend your free time scrolling through social media endlessly consuming content. This was a good reminder for me to look in the mirror and not be a hypocrite by speaking so highly of things and not taking advantage of them myself.
President Benson spoke about this issue in a 1986 General Conference talk:
In 1832, as some early missionaries returned from their fields of labor, the Lord reproved them for treating the Book of Mormon lightly. As a result of that attitude, he said, their minds had been darkened. Not only had treating this sacred book lightly brought a loss of light to themselves, it had also brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon” (D&C 84:54–57).
Do we treat the Book of Mormon lightly? Have our minds become darkened? If so, we are under the same condemnation today.
Follow The Prophet…When You Want
Another manifestation of this ‘we are holy because we have’ syndrome is the emphasis we put on the role of the prophet, but the hypocrisy among us if we don’t follow his counsel. I wrote an article recently called What Is The Value of Prophets If I Only Follow When I Agree. I essentially shared the same principle in that article that I am sharing here.
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness. … The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man.
The Church News has an article they have been continuously adding to called Invitations President Nelson has given since he became Prophet. In it, they have listed some of the invitations President Nelson has given. Here are just a few:
- Stay on the covenant path
- Increase spiritual capacity to Hear Him
- Gather Israel
- Let God prevail
- Build bridges of understanding
- Increase faith in Christ
- Strengthen spiritual foundation
- Resolve to be resolute
- Don’t be tethered to technology
- Focus on eternal identifiers
- Nurture your testimony
- Maintain spiritual momentum
Along with these invitations, there are many others. How are you personally doing at following his counsel? Is it something that sounds great when it comes from the mouth of the prophet, but the application of it is perhaps missing?
That’s where another invitation of our prophet would come in handy: daily repentance. We can all chose today to follow one of these invitations and reap the benefits of adhering to the counsel coming from a living prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Henry B. Eyring wrote an article in the 1997 Ensign called, “Finding Safety in Counsel.” A portion of his article reads:
When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose.
Another fallacy is to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are. But the choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. It becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.
Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path which was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before.
If you think of the people of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s time, their chants of “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” were nothing short of idolatry. They were worshiping these edifices but not aligning their actions with the words of Christ.
Are prophets, temples, and the Book of Mormon our idols? Things we worship as tokens of our sainthood, but not celestial tools we use to become the men and women God wants us to be?
Please consider where you stand. If you are using these celestial gospel tools, continue to do so! If you can make them more of a priority in your life, do it! We are so blessed to have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we are even MORE blessed when we live it!
The temples will not refine us, but time in them and living covenants made there, will. Our prophets will not protect us, but following their counsel and accepting their invitations that come from God, will. The Book of Mormon won’t help us see clearly between truth and error, but reading, studying, and pondering its words daily, will.
In the beloved words of King Benjamin: “and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.” – Mosiah 4:10