Once I was a yes-man, but then I got a brain. I was raised with Confucian-like filial piety. The Mormonism I was taught, was strongly rooted in respect for elders, including my family, and the hierarchy of the LDS Church. It was a twin pillar system of obedience to church and home. I was taught by my father to not question these pillars; only to sustain and follow. So, I became a yes-man; “Yes” to every assignment I was asked to fill; “Yes” to every leader who asked me to do something. These men, were my vicars of Christ. Yet I learned, that to play follow the leader, only dumbs people down, and prevents them from doing and becoming the good they ought to.
“We can’t support all these people you keep bringing to church, elders. We don’t have the funds to do so.” I shift uncomfortably in one of the leather chairs in my ecclesiastical leader’s mansion. His blue and white striped business shirt is rolled up to the elbow, so I can clearly see his watch, which cost more than my budget for the month. The light reflecting from his chandelier onto the face of his hand clock, causes me to squint, but it’s not why I’m wincing. “We need you to start finding some nice families, elders. Do you understand what I’m saying? We need some kingdom builders. I want you to baptize the next bishop; and that’ll start by finding some nice families.”
We understood him. The families we were bringing to church, were not nice. Plain, even dirty clothing, stinking project housing, needing rides to Sunday meetings; These are not nice things. Heaven knows, the Kingdom of God cannot be built by people without cars; or that smell bad; or may need some financial help. Poor families are not very nice, nor do they help build up the kingdom. But, I suppose that depends on whose kingdom is being labored for (Matthew 6:24).
For the first time in my life, while listening to one of my church leaders, I thought, “You are wrong”. I had never even conceived the possibility that such a high church leader could be wrong! My dad spoke scripture. My leaders only said things that were true. But, this wasn’t true. It was wrong. Despite his office, he was not representing the God I served. As the jewels on his hands sparkled, my eyes glanced to the left and saw the beautifully carved railing to his staircase, winding up like a ladder to heaven. Everything was spotless, pristine. Every vase was flawless. The floor shined. But inwardly, his house was naught but a cemetery to me, reeking of dead men’s bones. A little bread and water could not be spared for those who lived in the slums. Not from him. It was clear, he had nothing to spare. I felt nauseated, repulsed by this man I had respected so much.
Even so, I said “yes” to his direction, but I left with a confused conscience. Me and my companion, in obedience to our leader, spent the next few weeks trying to find some “nice families” in the wealthier neighborhoods. We found a lot of “religious” people who wanted nothing to do with us. With uncertainty if we were doing wrong in God’s sight, we decided to disregard our leaders counsel, and went back to our un-nice families. They all got baptized and are faithful to this day.
As a member of the Mormon Church, I have prided myself in a book of scripture we believe in, known as the Book of Mormon. Within this text, I read about a group of people known as the Zoramites. I used to think this was about all the other churches, but Mormon was warning us about ourselves.
The Zoramites were a dedicatedly religious people. They met in their synagogues each week, bearing their testimonies to each other that they had the true church, and were a righteous people. They had a strict dress policy, and everyone came in their Sunday best to the Zoramite worship service. But, if you didn’t match the Zoramite “nice policy”, you weren’t allowed in. “…the poor class of people… were cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel- Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogue to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness, therefore they were poor; yea, they were esteemed by their brethren as dross;” (Alma 32:2-3). No respectable Zoramite would want to pick up or sit next to one of those poor stinky people. We are the Zoramites, or rather, I was a Zoramite; until I started saying, “no”.
It was hard at first. I used to think, good Mormons always fall in line with what their leaders say. However, the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, said, “Mormonism is truth”. If I really wanted to follow Mormonism then, I would follow whatsoever is true, regardless of what my leaders may say which is false. What was Jesus Christ like regarding his leaders? Christ rebelled against his ecclesiastical leaders, and chose to do good. He rejected their traditions as being contrary to scripture. He called them children of hell. He did only those things which his Father taught him, much to the dismay of those who thought he owed them reverence. He told them “no”; and for that, they killed him.
It once frustrated me, for my father to appear so blindly loyal to his religious leaders, and his desire to instill that on his children; but my grandfather died when his firstborn, my dad, was a baby. My dad wanted a father and family so much, he would lie in bed and whimper as the tears rolled down, marking rivers of sorrow on his boyhood cheeks. “You could find me a dad if you really wanted to”, he told his mother. Seeking for a father’s care and a family’s love, the church became his family; and the brethren, his father. To disrespect them, was to disrespect his father. He never had to deal with his father’s weaknesses, only the whitewashed sepulcher of his life. That same idealism he attributed to his father, was applied to the institution that became his father, the LDS church.
My berosheit was substantively different from my fathers. I still respect my father, and my elders. I still attend Latter-Day Saint services. I listen to what they tell me. I still believe my father to be a great man, and that the LDS church has a divine purpose to fulfill, but I no longer accept every request made of me. I tell them I will think and pray about it. This doesn’t mean I condemn and throw aside all things brought to me by my father or church leaders. I take it all in. I then use scripture, Gods revelations, and my discernment to determine the truth of what I hear. I will still say “yes” to the church leaders, though I may also say “no”. I will still obey my father, however, sometimes I won’t. I’ve been told this is pride, but it seems only to be intelligence. If they speak a lie, or require something that is wrong, I respectfully disagree, and disregard that point. Obedience to truth is the ultimate manifestation of love to God. I have continued to choose disobedience to error in favor of obedience to truth, no matter the consequences or presuppositions of public opinion.
Being a yes-man, means you don’t think critically. It means you let other people do the thinking for you, and trust their brain is sufficient to dictate your life, and bring you unto salvation. I wouldn’t say I’ve become a no-man, I’ve just become a man who thinks
Why indeed. This organization is dedicated to giving alms to the poor and needy, and to serving as the Savior did. The breakdown of these two categories of service, will give a clear picture as to what this organization is all about, and what the purposes of this blog will be. These topics were touched on in our previous post, but will now be analyzed more exhaustively.
1. Giving of alms. Alms are defined as money or food given to the poor.
2. Serve the Saviors Way. This can only be defined as charity, the pure love of Christ.
Giving of Alms
“Almsgiving make atonement for sins” (Ecclesiasticus 3:22). We need to understand as our foundation, that we own nothing, deserve nothing, and are nothing.
We own nothing. “The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fullness thereof” (Psalms 24:1). Every blade of grass, every dollar “earned”, every item you think you own, is all Gods. You don’t own an atom of it. If you think you own something, you are wrong. It is the Almighty’s, and he is loaning it to you, to see how you can be entrusted with things that are not even yours. “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Give freely to the beggar, and condemn them not, “For behold, are we not all beggars?” (Mosiah 4:19).
We deserve nothing. “But God, who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together, with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). You must understand this,; all you deserve from God, is death, hell, and dissolution. We have broken the blood covenant which was made, and the penalty thereof, is death, hell, and dissolution of both body and spirit. “For the wages of sin is death…”; That is what we deserve, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Be not ignorant of this one point; we are saved only by grace, but we are rewarded according to our works.
We are nothing. We are “less than the dust of the earth” (Mosiah 4:2). Why is this so? Because even the dust obeys Gods every command. But what do we do? We disobey God constantly. Now before you puff yourself up, thinking you are more righteous than you are, keep in mind what the Lord Jesus told the Prophet Joseph Smith. “Verily thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:1). In John 14, the same admonition is given. The Lord Jesus tells his disciples, that whoever keeps his commandments, will be greeted by himself, and eventually even the Father will show himself unto that individual. So if the Lord Jesus has not appeared to you, search your life and your heart as to what is preventing this most sublime visitation. He wants to come to you, but your love of the things of this world, or your lack of faith, prevents him from doing so. But even if you have attained to one of these experiences, you are still dust, and capable of sin at any moment, lest you hold fast to that God who has redeemed you.
Let us remember the Saviors plea, that to give to the poor, is to give to him (Matthew 25:40). This obligation rests upon all of us, for the poor will always be among us (Mark 14:7).
Serving the Saviors Way
Almsgiving does make an atonement for sins; for though in our fallen state, it allows us to act in the capacity of a higher. However, we seem to trust in three commandments to save us, above all others.
1. Ordinances will give us tickets to heaven (these are dead works, which without faith and righteous living, and understanding the spirit of those laws, mean nothing [Moroni 8:23]).
2. Following some man or being a part of some church will lead you right into heaven (Christ is the only way to the Father [John 14:6]. Trusting in men, and the organizations of men, means you are cursed of God [2 Nephi 4:34]).
3. Paying tithes (true we pay tithes, but are we using them for the correct purposes, such as the poor?) http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2013/01/city-creek-how-did-we-come-to-this.html
It is not through doing works that we become saved, but by becoming like Christ through our works. WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? Christians know this phrase, though most of them have no idea what he would do; for they do not study his word, commune with him deeply in prayer, nor keep his commandments.
If you are a Christian, then your commission is to love; both God and your fellow man (Matthew 22:40). But how do we love? The love of the world is feelings of the heart; but God has said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). How then do we recognize, and then act with true love, and not this false love of the world, which is only lust? “If ye love me, keep my commandments”, so said the Savior (John 14:15). Therefore, we show our love to God, by keeping his commandments. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3). And Jesus also said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Therefore, if to love God means to keep his commandments, then to love our fellow beings, is to help them keep the commandments of God. This is how the Savior served.
To have charity, “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47), is to have the heart and mind of Christ; to think, say, and do, even as he. Most of the time, this will probably mean lifting the broken, caring for the sick, and the widow, but that is not all that is required to be Christ-like. We must keep all of the commandments, and teach men that they must also. Sometimes we will need to be bold, correcting false doctrines which damn (John 8:44), and teaching the true way, to free men from the bondage of those false paths (Matthew 15:9). This is how the Savior served. He separated the truth of God as found in scripture, from the inventions of men as found in their handbooks and policy statements, so that we would know the true path to eternal life.
And so, this is why we will have a blog. That we may be thoroughly instructed in the ways of righteousness, so that we may “come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Now stop worrying about all those sins and weaknesses which may be bothering you, and go do something holy for someone else (Denver Snuffer, 40 Years in Mormonism, Repentance).
There is a special light in the eyes of the poor, their lives are limited in material possessions yet you can notice in them and feel an abundance of warmth that melts the heart, that calms the soul. The balsam to our troubled spirit and times would be the saving hand that helped the poor in their moments of need.
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