Sunday, December 13, 2015
They say the Book of Mormon was written for our day. I believe that. Take a look at this event recorded in Alma 45 and 46.
“For behold, because of their wars with the Lamanites and the many little dissensions and disturbances which had been among the people, it became expedient that the word of God should be declared among them, yea, and that a regulation should be made throughout the church” (Alma 45:21).
Oh, my gosh. That sure sounds like our current situation in the church with the new regulation or guideline. It was sent out for a reason…because of "wars" with the world and little dissensions and disturbances throughout the church.
So I kept reading with increased interest. Then it gets really interesting. I won’t quote the verses in their entirety but, briefly put, “there arose a dissension among them (the members) and they would not give heed to the words….and they were exceedingly wroth.”
Some of the members of the ancient church did not like the new regulation. Sound familiar? According to the Book of Mormon, some of the members began listening to the words of others and the upset members gathered together to express their disapproval.
To try and resolve the issue, Helaman and his brethren began to reteach them the doctrine—which is exactly what the church has done. Yet, “Notwithstanding the preaching of Helaman and his brethren, yea, notwithstanding their exceedingly great care over the church…there were many in the church who ….dissented even from the church.”
And we have seen that very thing recently...but that is not the part I want to dwell on. I want to share with you what happened next.
A young active member, who was only about 26 at the time, rent his coat “and wrote upon it—‘In the memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.” Young Captain Moroni chose to stand with the prophet and the brethren in trying remind the people of a greater purpose. This young leader used his words to remind everyone why we are doing this whole gospel thing--for God and eternal families.
Today the men and women of the Church—especially the young members—have power at their fingertips to be like a modern Captain Moroni. They can use the internet to write powerful words like Captain Moroni reminding others of why we do the things we do. Our posts are not to satisfy our own egos and beliefs, nor defend our own monocular vision. We should be showing the Lord that we know His standards and we are willing to stand by them even if the rest of the world (which may include some of our own family members), have forgotten the purpose of our existence or have been misled by the words of others.
And the scriptures record that because of Moroni's words, “the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant.”
In ancient Israeli tradition, clothes were tied to the character of your soul. To rend another’s clothes was the ultimate insult. To rend your own, the ultimate voice.
So, led by young Captain Moroni's example, the members joined together to defend their lifestyle before the world. It wasn’t easy, for the scriptures tell us those dissenters had joined the Lamanites and “they became more hardened and impenitent than the Lamanites.” Remember, these were not faceless dissenters. They were loved family members and friends. What a heartbreak the members must have felt yet they held firm to the truths they knew.
And Moroni held firm as well, even though some of those dissenters must have been known and very dear to him, too. He heard their words and their accusations yet, instead, he focused on “preparing the minds of the people to be faith unto the Lord their God.” He helped the members fortify their weakest areas so that they could “support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God.”
Again, those with the internet at their fingertips can and should do that. They should turn their words and their efforts to fortifying, not destroying. (The hidden power of the internet is in what it says about the writer! What we write about, what we say in our posts and our comments leaves a trail that tells people more about us than the topic we select.)
Interestingly, Paul understood that youth could be powerful influences for good when he wrote to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy 4:12). It is not a coincidence that this advice was given while Paul was teaching the young man about the last days! Even today, as the last days darken around us, the youthful bloggers and writers on the internet can be powerful influences for good.
Young Captain Moroni changed the outcome of an entire nation by the words he chose to write—by the stand with the Lord he chose to make. Then comes the most powerful tribute to a mortal man ever given in all of scripture. “And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
“Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
“Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of is blood…
“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power of the hearts of the children of men” (Alma 48:11-13 and 17).
How grateful I am for the young men and women who choose to stand by the Lord in the face of dissension. It is hard for them, I know, but if even one person says of them what Mormon said of Captain Moroni, their courage and voice has been heard and the powers of hell have been shaken.