In May, the stake president went around to each of the wards in the stake. He spoke for quite some time and asked the members to spiritually prepare to be taught by an apostle of the Lord. At Elder Bednar’s request, we were asked to be in our seats 30 minutes before the meeting started.
We were working outside on Friday afternoon and lost track of time. Our youth didn’t make it to the Friday night meeting until 6:50 p.m. The parking lot was full, but abnormally quiet. The stake president was out in the parking lot with two chairs reserving parking spaces. He had his cell phone and was awaiting the arrival of the apostle and general authority. As our youth walked into the meeting, they noticed the total silence. It was a marvel to see so many youth completely quiet.
Elder Bednar walked in at 7:00 p.m. and almost everyone stood up to welcome him. I wonder why he had everyone arrive at 6:30 p.m. when he barely showed up on time. What’s all this standing up for an apostle business? When my family came home and told me what had happened, I was troubled.
This same behavior continued throughout the weekend. Elder Bednar would come in at the last minute, and almost everyone would rise to his or her feet. At the close of the general session, the congregation was instructed to wait at their seats while the visiting authorities exited. Once again, the congregation rose to their feet as the procession departed.
During the Friday night meeting, Elder Bednar told the youth that when the quorum of the twelve meets, they rise to their feet as President Monson walks in the room. Even Elder Packer, who experiences great pain when he stands, makes the sacrifice to rise for President Monson. This sounds too much like the scribes and Pharisees.
1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
What does it mean to sit in Moses’ seat? Are the scribes and Pharisees the leaders of Christ’s church? Did they claim to possess the same power and authority given to Moses?
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Why are we to observe and do their words but not follow after their actions?
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
Why do they want to be noticed by men?
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
Why do they love and expect special treatment? Why do men seek a red seat?
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Why do these church leaders want to be highly thought of and appear religiously superior? How does Christ feel about being supplanted by the scribes and Pharisees? What is Christ’s position? What is our position? Are humans to be put one above another?
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Matthew 23:1-12
What is the role of the great ones? How does a great man see himself? Will he ever draw attention to his greatness?
The Scribes and Pharisees have the seniority thing so deeply rooted in them that when they left the woman who was caught in adultery, they went out in order of their seniority. “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” John 8:9. In our day it would be comparable to two or more apostles walking through the doorway in order of their seniority. It looks kind of ridiculous, but seniority and position seem to give the impression of supremacy.
A few years ago, we were invited to the wedding ceremony for a general authority’s daughter. Even though we were invited to the ceremony, we were told that we were not allowed to come to the private reception held for church authorities. Family and friends waited outside while church leaders paid their respects to the bride and groom. Something didn’t feel right. Why don’t our leaders want to socialize with us who they lead? Family and friends participated in the public reception held later that evening.
Is this kind of elitist idol worship going to save us? Can anyone but the Lord, Jesus Christ redeem us? Should we put anyone except God on a pedestal? Then why do we do it? If everyone is doing it, do we have to join in? How does idol worship damn its participants?
“But behold, I trust that ye are not in a state of so much unbelief as were your brethren; I trust that ye are not lifted up in the pride of your hearts; yea, I trust that ye have not set your hearts upon riches and the vain things of the world; yea, I trust that you do not worship idols, but that ye do worship the true and the living God, and that ye look forward for the remission of your sins, with an everlasting faith, which is to come.” Alma 7:6