Our world is a very confusing place, and up until at least the last couple of decades in the Western culture we used to be able to rely on a basic, somewhat universal, Christian mindset to interpret what happened in life. If we went to war we prayed to God for deliverance. If we lost a loved one, we turned to God for comfort. If our children went astray, we chalked it up to the devil’s work among us. Life was a lot easier to navigate because we were promised blessings if we were obedient to commandments and punishments if we disobeyed. We believed in those promises.
So what changed? Now when we go to war we are so busy fighting among ourselves for preeminence, we can’t get anything done. We can no longer agree on anything. Everyone is more concerned about being right than accomplishing something good that will benefit others. People have become so skittish about offending someone that everyone has become afraid to move a muscle for fear they will be sued or called out publicly for being a racist or bigot. Those who are willing to point fingers and wage personal war on their neighbors are controlling whole neighborhoods and cities because of the fear they have instilled in the rest of us who are unwilling to push back. Christians are no longer willing to put themselves on the line and work hard to preserve what they “believe” in. As a result, those who don’t believe, and those who hate Christians are having a field day with our laws. (Please note that this article was written more than six years ago.)
The world’s promises
In this life we have two camps or ideologies at play. It may seem like more, but they all fall into one camp or the other. The first camp I want to address are the promises made to us by the world (Satan’s playground). Satan walks the earth under many guises, but they all serve one purpose, to divert people away from thinking long term for the eternities. All he has to do is get us to think only for this life or even today, and he wins the war for our soul. Let’s see what we are promised in return for our acceptance of the ways of the world. Here is a SHORT checklist of promises the world makes to us.
1. If we place the blame on someone else for what happens in our lives, someone else will feel guilty and take care of us. Check.
2. If we point the finger of blame and demand restitution long enough for past wrongs, even if those wrongs are hundreds of years old, eventually we will be recompensed for it. We will also be allowed to whine forever after about how we weren’t treated fairly, and hence can become derelict and not have to improve ourselves because society will take care of us. After all, we were the ones whose ancestors were wronged. Check.
3. Religious groups are now permitted to move into a community and start demanding that the community change its laws and customs to accommodate the new group’s preferred lifestyle. Somehow the idea of allowing for differences in each other has become a thing of the past. Now everyone has to live by standards imposed by the people yelling the loudest, even if they are only a tiny minority and are new to the country. Check.
4. If we eat all vegetables, and no meat, we will become healthier and look better. We should spend all our waking time exercising vigorously because we are “champions” and that is what a champion does, exercise. We must remain skeletally thin so we look good in our size zero dresses or workout clothes. This makes us happy, right? Check.
5. If we buy the right car or wear the right brand of clothing our lives will be filled with purpose and people will love us. We all want to be loved, right? Check.
6. Money is everything. Happiness is connected to it. Popularity is driven by it. Fame is a result of it. Money is the object of this game called life. Even people can be bought and sold with money. Check.
7. Power is also everything. If you have the right education, know the right people, live in the right neighborhood, all things are possible. Once you have power you become untouchable. You can literally do what you want and get away with anything. Isn’t that what life is for, getting away with anything? Check.
I made this list somewhat “tongue in cheek.” My point in making this list is to demonstrate that the world does not offer any promises to us that are worth anything of real value. Yes, if we whine long enough about how picked on we are, generally the government is willing to take care of us in exchange for our vote, which ensures their continued power, unchallenged. But what of all the advertising messages, and ideologies being pushed by universities around the world? None of them can offer us anything of value that will not disappear at death. Even Hollywood and the latest sexual revolution cannot offer anything that will bring lasting happiness, despite their clout with the media.
Truly, the promises of this world are only made for this world. At death all contracts are ended. In fact, half the time the world does not uphold the promises it makes anyway. How many times have we been told something would make us thinner or had it intimated that we would be happier with a certain item? These are all empty promises that we cannot rely on. Even if they are fulfilled, they only last as long as we continue to fill the purse of the one making the promise because we cannot live happily without their product.
I ask you, is this all worth it? With thousands of voices promising what they cannot guarantee, and nothing lasting more than a fleeting moment, is the pursuit of what the world promises worth the strain we give ourselves to satisfy what they say we should be demanding? With that said, let’s turn to the promises of the Lord to see if His promises are any easier to live with.
The Lord’s promises
The world makes specific promises that, more often than not, it does not, and cannot, keep. The Lord makes promises of a completely different nature. In exchange for our obedience to his commandments (laws of happiness), the Lord promises us happiness in this world and eternal joy after death. The world would have us try to be happy with things. God says that happiness is independent of things. We can find peace and joy even in times of great distress and suffering. Basically, the world needs us to focus on the here and now, because Satan knows he only has a short time in which to do his work of distraction and destruction.
The Lord knows, and tries to get us to believe, that we have the rest of eternity before us, and how we choose to live in the here and now will directly affect how we spend the rest of eternity. So his promises are of a more permanent nature. For example, when we get baptized we make a contract with God, a covenant, to obey his laws, and in return he makes us a promise. It is found in Mosiah 18:8-10.
8 … Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
His promise is that we will be given the Spirit to be our companion, to be with us, if we obey his commandments. Now let’s look at both sacrament prayers, which is a weekly renewal of our baptismal covenant. Here is the prayer that is offered to bless the bread:
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen” (D&C 20:77).
Here is the prayer that is offered to bless the water:
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine [water] to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen” (D&C 20:79).
In all three of these covenants there is one thread that runs universally throughout, and that is that his Spirit will be with us if we obey the commandments and live the way he tells us to live. So what is it about having the Spirit with us that makes it such a big deal? The answer can be found in Mosiah 2:41.
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
The difference between Satan and the world, and God, our Father, is that Satan cannot be truthful, and God cannot lie. What makes it difficult for us is that Satan surrounds us, bombarding us with messages to follow him every hour of every day. The Lord is physically absent from us, but if He were present, the side-by-side comparison would hardly be fair. The Lord’s way brings peace, joy, happiness, fulfillment, and eternal union with those we love. But we have to wait until we leave this life to get our final reward of living with God. In the meantime we can still experience the inner peace that only those who are obedient to the commandments can enjoy. The Spirit whispers peace to our souls and brings us contentment and happiness from within. No outside props are needed.
I go back to my original question: “So what changed?” Actually, the only thing that has ever changed is man. Our society has begun to believe Satan over God, and hence, chaos, which is the Devil’s hallmark, reigns. Only in Christ’s kingdom will we find peace in our souls, the ability to forgive and be forgiven, and joy in our families. It is only through the blessings of having the Holy Ghost present in our lives that we are able to look forward to eternity with hope in our hearts. We hope for a brighter day than what we have to live with here in mortality. Through the Holy Ghost we no longer live for today, but live for life in the eternities, which is where we will be forever once we shuffle off this mortal coil.
Considering the track record of the world, and the track record of the Lord, I vote we follow the Lord.
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