20 March 2014

"Ye Do Worship the True and the Living God," Alma 7:3-6

Alma 7:3-6

I am appreciating today the difference in wholesomeness, cleanliness, or worthiness that is presented in these verses as a contrast to the more sinful state of those at Zarahemla. It causes me to consider the question of whether it is better to have experienced the hardship and difficulties of sin and then gone through the process of repentance, or whether it is better to have the experience of endurance in righteousness.

That this comparison would even be considered brings to light two general false assumptions:
  1. That the Atonement of Christ can only be seriously experienced and realistically accessed through the process of turning from serious, grievous sin. 
  2. Similarly, the sufferings and hardship of the righteous who endure in righteousness are not the same, nor comparable, nor as significant as the pain and anguish that is suffered by the godless as the result of sin. 
Now this second point is a hard one to measure or assess. There seems to be an inherent need to compare the worthy suffering of the righteous verses the sinful suffering of the wicked, as if one were greater than the other. This is a diabolical farce to force comparison on this point. (I am growing to realize that much of the world's tendency to compare is diabolical.) Rather, what we do know is that when the righteous suffer, it is to their ultimate blessing and purification. When the wicked suffer, it is not the same. It may however prove to their salvation if it is the catalyst for repentance.

I discussed this point further with my wife when I last considered this section of scripture. Pain and hardship is not synonymous with sin and subsequent suffering. Yet many times we assume that if we are experiencing difficulties it is because of sin, entirely forgetting the ultimate purpose of our existence is to experience the refinement and purification that will forge the means of our salvation.

So for Alma to find the people of Gideon in a state of humility, blameless before God (see vs. 3) is quite noteworthy. The groundwork had already been laid for a much greater blessings to be obtained.

See also: The Atonement Covers All Pain

14 March 2014

"The Lord in Much Mercy Hath Granted," Alma 7:1-2

Alma 7:1-2

Verses 1 and 2 seem like something of a formality only if we choose to see them that way. However, recent prayers and events in my own life have caused me to consider the significance of a few key points.

Alma starts his remarks by stating that he had been permitted to come to them by rearranging the affairs of the government and freeing up his time and responsibilities so that he could attended to such. He points out that this is the first time that he had been permitted to travel to meet this particular group of saints in person. Thus Alma concludes that "the Lord in much mercy hath granted that I should come unto you." (verse 2) This seems noteworthy that Alma did not take for granted the restructuring of the government of the land as something that he accomplished in and of himself.

There are two different reminders that I take away from this introduction:
  •  First, on a personal level, I do well to remember the great blessings that have been extended to me in recent years that have permitted me to have more time to do the Lord's work. 
  • Secondly, on a more general level, I should not take for granted how easily accessible communications from prophets have become. I wonder if this is not one of the greatest miracles of our day: that in the comfort of our own homes and local church houses we can enjoy transmissions where we get to hear prophet's words in the very moment in which they are spoken. And then when we are blessed to have a visiting leader or general authority among us, because of advances in transportation and travel, is this too not a blessing of modern mercy?