Thursday, October 7, 2010
3 Nephi 12: 11-12
3 Nephi 12: 11-12:
"And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake; For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you."
If your actions are misjudged, that is only normal. There have been charlatans using religion to cloak their evil deeds from the beginning of time. They are so widespread, so often exposed for what they really are, that humanity has a legitimate skepticism about those who come in the name of the Lord.
From Jimmy Swaggart's prostitutes to Ted Haggard's homosexual encounters, the evangelical world has been rocked by the sexual misconduct of ministers. Catholic priesthood sexual abuse has been so widespread that there is a whole legal industry devoted to bringing and defending claims from victims of that abuse. The LDS Church has quietly settled a number of claims on both coasts and adjusted how membership records are documented and what precautions are taken when calling a man to teach in Primary because of sexual misconduct and associated legal claims.
The Burt Lancaster film Elmer Gantry was based on the Sinclair Lewis novel and illustrated the life and deeds of a false prophet. Indeed, the term "prophet" is rarely used in modern vernacular outside of LDS circles unless coupled with the term "false." "False prophet" is expected. What is unexpected is the contrary.
So when first reactions are taken, it will always be to sneer, to jeer, to mock and to suspect those who come in the name of the Lord. They are right to do that. Everyone OUGHT to question motives. Everyone OUGHT to think you're a fraud. They should expect you are like all those others in whom society trusted. No one wants to follow Jim Jones to their death, drinking strychnine laced Kool-Aid in another mass-suicide. That has happened too often already. Indeed, the fruits of such false prophets have been so devastating, so evil, so wrong in spirit and result that only a fool would be eager to trust you even should you have a pure heart and a true message.
The first reaction should be skepticism which will result in an attempt to measure your sincerity. Until you've been tested by the world, there is no reason for the world to believe anything you have to say. They will revile you, thinking you just another fraud. They will persecute you as if a charlatan, though you are His disciple. They will say all manner of evil against you falsely, all the while thinking they are only giving you what you deserve.
This is how the world decides if you are following Him. They have seen and heard no end of those who have claimed to follow Him, and you are no different in their eyes. That is, until you have actually followed Him; borne their criticism, returned good for evil, and shown how devoted you are in fact, as Christ will address in coming verses. When you have proven your devotion, then some few will soften their hearts. Others will remain unwilling to admit the truth, even when it is apparent you are His.
This is the way in which Christ lived His life. These teachings are an explanation of Him. And, in turn, it is also an explanation of the lives of any who follow Him. To follow Him, and to learn of His ways always requires experiencing some of what He experienced. While He assumed a full measure of these teachings, we are required to experience some of what He did only to allow us to understand Him. But these teachings are meant to be lived. They are meant to be applied and tested. If you test them, you will discover Him through them.
You will also come to know and understand the prophets who went before. This is a timeless brotherhood. Some of them invariably also come to succor their fellow Saint. This is always the same when the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is lived on the earth.