For this post I just want to analyze my own experience in the Church(TM). The feelings I’m going to talk about here are my own. You may or may not have felt the same things. So when I talk about the Church being a certain way or seeming a certain way it is because I felt it was like that.
What I want to talk about is how the attitude of the Church has changed and what we are focused on doing now.
When I think back to my younger days in the Church I remember there was almost a hint of a waiting attitude. It was almost like we were waiting for something to happen. In church lessons you would hear references to someday going back to Jackson County. Or you’d occasionally here about Plural Marriage being someday restored. To me I felt as though we were waiting for some future command to get everything going and fulfill the prophecies and purposes of the Latter-day work.
But now today in 2011 even that faint hint of waiting is gone. I sat in Sunday School and pondered just what our purpose is as member of the Church. If it isn’t to pave the way for building a City in Zion, or consecrating all our property to the church, then what is it?
I came to the conclusion that our purpose as Latter-day Saints, today, seems to be to live life as normal but with a churchy flair. When talking about building Zion I’ve never heard a reference to Jackson county in years! What it seems to me is that the Church just teaches people to get through school, get a good job, retire, and then live happily ever after. We are just supposed to live out our lives and do it while being involved in Church activities.
When it comes to building the Kingdom we are taught to do our home teaching and attend our meetings. We are focused on increasing membership numbers by converting our neighbors. We focus on doing temple ordinances, like endowments and baptisms for the dead. I’ve also noticed a sense of pride when we make more progress in becoming accepted by the world. But what are we actually doing?
I don’t know about you, but shouldn’t there be some improvement each Sunday I go to church. Why haven’t our lesson manuals improved since forever? Why are we still being fed milk. Granted, I’ve only been an official member of the Church for eighteen years, but shouldn’t I have earned some sort of increase in knowledge?
I know, I know, the Church has to teach things at the most basic level so all the new converts can understand. Well what about me and others who have been members for many years now? Ok, yeah you’re right I’m not perfect in the basics. I don’t always have the most heartfelt prayers. I don’t always have the best scripture study. I don’t make it to the temple every month. But guess what. It is impossible for us to be perfect at the basics. We cannot be 100% obedient to the law in this life. That’s why we need a Savior to help us overcome our weakness. It is ridiculous to say that we don’t need/deserve anymore because we can’t live what we’ve already been given. In fact many times when I hear people talking about this subject it’s almost as if they don’t want any more. It scares me because it sounds awfully a lot like, “A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible…and we need no more Bible.” We are either increasing or decreasing. If we aren’t receiving more than it means that we are losing what we already have.
You’ll have to forgive me. I know that God’s ways are not man’s ways but it seems like there is an awful long way to go in preparing for Christ’s coming. There is so much that needs to happen, but the Church is not doing ANYTHING to help us progress towards these things. Now like I said, I’m just a simple Elder in the church. I don’t hold the title of president of anything. Nor am I perfect at the basics, so my view may be limited. But I just can help but stand aghast when the Church is spending an estimated $6 BILLION US dollars to build a shopping mall. That is a six with nine zeros. That’s three Burj Dubais(tallest building in the world). I just did a quick estimate, but that amount of money could buy about thirty thousand homes in Independence, Missouri.
It seems to me that we have completely lost focus on what is important, on the revelations and commandments of God. We used to at least be waiting for these things but now we don’t even acknowledge them.
So just what are some things we need to be doing? Well lucky for you I complied a short list. This list isn’t comprehensive nor is it in any particular order.
Be able to become disciples and have the Gifts of the Spirit manifest among us – I’ve posted before about scriptural references of attributes true disciples of Christ must possess. I know I don’t possess them. So while I may be a believer in Christ I cannot say I qualify as a disciple. I also know that the Gifts of the Spirit are not manifest in me.
Receive ancient record and words of prophets – There are the greater things, the Brass plates, the records of the Ten Tribes, the records of the nations, and the Sealed Portion to come forward all before Christ comes. We need to begin the process of gathering true ancient records.
Preach Gospel to all creatures(first to gentiles then to Jews) – The Church does have a large missionary force which preaches a Church approved curriculum. But there are several problems with this curriculum. The main one is that missionaries bring converts into the organization of the Corporate Church. Rather than simply preaching the gospel they preach many other things as if they have the same level of importance as the Gospel.
Additionally missionaries do not distinguish between Jews and Gentiles. Instead they preach to everyone they can. We are specifically told in scripture to preach first to the Gentiles and then to the Jews.
Build Twelve Cities of Zion – Joseph Smith interpreted the twelve olive trees in Section 101 to be twelve stakes of the Zion that would be build before the City of Zion. These twelve Cities/stakes must be built before the City of Zion can be built.
Build Temple and City of Zion – The construction of the City of Zion must begin first with the construction of the Temple. After that the houses, other temples, streets, and farms can be built.
Fill the World with Cities of Zion – The first Plat of Zion explains that after the City of Zion was built then many other Cities after the same pattern were to be built around the world.
Establish the Political Kingdom of God – Joseph Smith established the Council of Fifty as a governing body for the “Kingdom of God and His Laws”. This Council consisted of not only members of the LDS church but of members of other Christian denominations. The polictial Kingdom of God was to be a literal government of God.
Gather the Twelve Tribes – The scriptures teach that we are to gather the tribes of Israel to a literal place called Zion. The gentiles are to be gathered to Zion and the Jews are to be gathered to Jerusalem. This gathering of Jews to Jerusalem may facilitate their preaching of the Gospel to them after it has been preached to the Gentiles.
Establish Israel – Ezekiel speaks of the land of Israel divided into portions for each of the twelve Tribes.
Build the Third Temple – Ezekiel also describes the dimensions of the Third Temple that must be built on the temple mount.
Another problem I’ve noticed is that those of us who are aware of these things seem to have the same waiting attitude the Church used to have. Many of us talk about waiting for the cleansing of the Church, or waiting for the One Mighty and Strong.
But I think that the time for waiting is over. We must now take action to accomplish these things. If the Church(TM) will not do it, then we must.
We each need to search the scriptures and the revelations. We need to each seek the Spirit to determine what we should each be doing. If the Spirit is telling you to wait that’s fine. But if the Spirit is telling us to do something then we should start doing it. Over my next series of posts I’m going to examine what we can do to help further the Lord’s work. It will of course be my own opinion and you should search for yourself. But I’m done waiting and I’m going to take action.