In Elder’s Quorum we had a lesson about slowing our lives down and getting back to basics.
We read about the Jews looking beyond the mark.
14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.
The teacher asked for comments. I comment that, perhaps one way we look beyond the mark today, is in not trusting our own personal revelation. We have to have someone else spell is out for us and give us God’s word.
Do we not trust our own inspiration enough, that we have to rely on someone else to give us God’s word?
Later we talked about the basics of the Gospel. Which in a General Conference talk were defined as:
1. Our relationship with God
2. Our relationship with Family
3. Our relationship with our Fellow man
4. Our relationship with Ourselves
Just looking at this list as the basics of the Gospel it doesn’t say much. It doesn’t say how our relationships, with those listed, should be. It just acknowledges that those relationships exist.
My first thought after hearing this was this scripture:
3 Nephi 11:40
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
The basics of the Gospel are not those four things listed above. The basics, and fulness, of the Gospel are:
1. Faith in Christ
3. Baptism of Water
4. Baptism of Fire and the Spirit
If any one gives more or less than these four things and claims it to be the Gospel, it comes from evil, and is not building on the Rock which is Christ. I’ve even had to stop myself from identifying things like tithing, plural marriage, consecration, temple ordinances, etc. as principles of the Gospel. They aren’t. Now, I usually refer to them as Principles of the Restoration. They are not those four things listed and are hence NOT the Gospel. They are additional things that each person should seek the will of the Lord in knowing what He would have them accept.
Given that, I will not simply dismiss those four relationships. I don’t think they are basics of the Gospel. Rather I think they are basics of humanity. Those four things(actually number two and three should be combined since they are the same thing) are fundamental to the interaction of a person with everything else.
Relationship with God – Whether a person’s god is Elohim, Alah, a mystical force, nature, or even their own conscience, a person’s relationship with God determines how that person interacts with themselves and with others. It really is the most fundamental and foundational of all the other relationships. If there is something wrong in this relationship it can affect the other relationships.
Relationship with Family and Fellow man – Family and fellow man are really the same things. On one hand we are all part of the human family. On the other, it is everyone outside of ourselves. We need to take care of our family both immediate and distant.
Relationship with Ourselves – We really do have a relationship with ourselves. I find Brother Dieter’s words very helpful in that we should not criticize ourselves. We should take time to come to understand and know ourselves. We should learn to see ourselves as God sees us.
Another reason why I put numbers two and three together is that, in doing so I can fit these four(three) things with some of the greatest words ever spoken. When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus Christ answered:
36 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
37 This is the first and great commandment.
38 And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
We can find all of these three things here. The first is obvious, Love God. The second is easy to spot, Love thy neighbor. But the third is often overlooked, LOVE thy neighbor as THYSELF. We are not commanded to simply Love our neighbor. Rather we are to love them as we love ourselves. We know that we must love our neighbors, so that implies that we must therefor also have great love for ourselves. We must work to come to peace with ourselves. Loving ourselves is a pretty deep topic so I’ll save it for another day.
I cannot classify these four(three) things as part of the Gospel. But I do think they lay the groundwork in preparing ourselves to accept and live the Gospel. There is a reason why Christ said all the law and prophets hang on these three things. If these three relationships are not positive and loving we cannot progress. We cannot increase on what we currently have. The Gospel is pointless in our lives, if these the relationships are not nurtured. I don’t care what religion, or lack there of, you have, the relationship with God still applies to you. It is universal and has no dogmatic boundaries. I hope that we can all work to develop and improve these relationships. If we do, we will become much better people, and we will have a much better world.