Sometimes when I view our stupidity, inefficiency, wastefulness, cruelty, complacency, ignorance, rebellion, and stubbornness, I get a crazy feeling inside. It doesn't have to be so difficult. There really is a better way.
I asked God, “How can you patiently watch our foolishness?”
I heard him say, “What's the alternative?”
It wouldn't help in creating strong, independent, loving, capable, gentle, creative, and godlike children were God to force a better way upon us. People need space and time to get things figured out for themselves. It's one of the purposes of this telestial world. Making or forcing us to do some good thing would only build resistance and resentment in us. This scripture came to mind:
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. D&C 93:30-31
So there you have it, “Here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man.”
I've heard people give credit to God for all sorts of atrocities. Why would God allow this? Why is this happening? If there really is a God, why is there so much suffering, evil, and heartache?
Well, God is love. We are allowed to make choices, and so we create problems and get to experience the consequences of our decisions. How are we to learn if not allowed to experience the results of our creations?
Lehi in teaching his family said this, “And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.” 2 Nephi 2:14
God created all things to act or to be acted upon. What does it mean to act? What does it mean to be acted upon? Who is free to act? Who is acted upon? We are creatures of habit, societal norms, addictions, traditions, and customs. Very few are free to act. Most of us are not much better off than Pavlov's dogs.
We respond the way we've been trained to respond. Why do we do things the way we do? Well, its tradition.
The media, churches, schools, and our families train us. We go along without much thought or question. We are slaves to habit and social conditioning. Look how easy it is to get someone to conform and go along with the group even when it makes no sense.
How are we set free? How does Christ help us step off the rat-wheel and start acting for ourselves?
And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. 2 Nephi 2:26-27
Is it possible to be free without being redeemed? What is sin? What does it mean to be redeemed? When captive, what are our choices? What is the relationship between redemption, eternal life, and freedom? What is the relationship between sin, captivity,and death? What brings misery? What brings peace and happiness?
O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.
And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins. And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls. Helaman 5:9-11
What is God's purpose in sending angels? What is the difference between being redeemed in your sins and being redeemed from your sins? How are we redeemed from our sins? How does knowledge and intelligence save us?
For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God,changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Mosiah 27:24-26
What happens when we are redeemed from the fall? What does it mean to be born of God? When do we become sons and daughters of God? How do we inherit the kingdom of God?
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:20-21
Where is the kingdom of God? What does that mean?
Where is the peace of God felt? What is the relationship between peace and redemption? What is the relationship between peace and the kingdom of God?
If we're looking for the peace the world promotes, we won't find it. The story of Abinadi and the priests of Noah shows the contrast between two very different understandings of peace.
Noah and his priests saw Abinadi as a troublemaker. In their view, he was stirring up contentions among the people.
I command you to bring Abinadi hither, that I may slay him, for he has said these things that he might stir up my people to anger one with another, and to raise contentions among my people; therefore I will slay him. Mosiah 11:28
This was Abinadi's message.
Yea, wo be unto this generation! And the Lord said unto me: Stretch forth thy hand and prophesy, saying: Thus saith the Lord, it shall come to pass that this generation, because of their iniquities, shall be brought into bondage, and shall be smitten on the cheek; yea, and shall be driven by men, and shall be slain; and the vultures of the air, and the dogs, yea, and the wild beasts, shall devour their flesh.
And it shall come to pass that the life of king Noah shall be valued even as a garment in a hot furnace; for he shall know that I am the Lord.
And it shall come to pass that I will smite this my people with sore afflictions, yea, with famine and with pestilence; and I will cause that they shall howl all the day long. Yea, and I will cause that they shall have burdens lashed upon their backs; and they shall be driven before like a dumb ass.
And it shall come to pass that I will send forth hail among them, and it shall smite them; and they shall also be smitten with the east wind; and insects shall pester their land also, and devour their grain. And they shall be smitten with a great pestilence—and all this will I do because of their iniquities and abominations.
And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will utterly destroy them from off the face of the earth; yet they shall leave a record behind them, and I will preserve them for other nations which shall possess the land; yea, even this will I do that I may discover the abominations of this people to other nations. And many things did Abinadi prophesy against this people. Mosiah 12:2-8
Keep in mind the priest's question was designed to find an accusation against Abinadi.
And they began to question him, that they might cross him, that thereby they might have wherewith to accuse him; but he answered them boldly, and withstood all their questions, yea, to their astonishment; for he did withstand them in all their questions, and did confound them in all their words. Mosiah 12:19
This is the priest's question.
And it came to pass that one of them said unto him: What meaneth the words which are written, and which have been taught by our fathers, saying: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth; Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion; Break forth into joy; sing together ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem; The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God? Mosiah 12:20-24
Here's Abinadi's response.
And now Abinadi said unto them: Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying, and yet desire to know of me what these things mean? Mosiah 12:25
After reading Abinadi's message of warning, can you see why the priests of Noah would use this question about peace in their attempt to confound Abinadi in his words? What was the priest's understanding of publishing peace and bringing good tidings? Here's Abinadi's explanation of the verses.
And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.
And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men— Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.
And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed? Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed? Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed.
And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth! And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet! And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace! And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever! And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people;
For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. Mosiah 15:6-19
Who are the Lord's seed? Peace comes to His seed through the redemption. Those who have been redeemed are heirs of the kingdom of God. Prophets have come into the Lord's presence and been redeemed from the fall. They know the truth and the truth has set them free. They invite others to come unto Christ and be redeemed. Peace is established as each soul comes unto Christ.
We live in troubled times. Two paths are before us. A scourge is going forth until those who have inherited peace are the only ones left standing.
For I, the Almighty, have laid my hands upon the nations, to scourge them for their wickedness. And plagues shall go forth, and they shall not be taken from the earth until I have completed my work, which shall be cut short in righteousness—Until all shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song, saying:
The Lord hath brought again Zion;
The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel,
According to the election of grace,
Which was brought to pass by the faith
And covenant of their fathers.
The Lord hath redeemed his people;
And Satan is bound and time is no longer.
The Lord hath gathered all things in one.
The Lord hath brought down Zion from above.
The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.
The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength;
And truth is established in her bowels;
And the heavens have smiled upon her;
And she is clothed with the glory of her God;
For he stands in the midst of his people.
Glory, and honor, and power, and might,
Be ascribed to our God; for he is full of mercy,
Justice, grace and truth, and peace,
Forever and ever, Amen. D&C 84:96-102
We can be like Noah and his priests and reject the warning of coming danger, reject the invitation to receive peace, and perish; Or we can be like Alma and take the message to heart, repent, and receive the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Hebrews 8:10-12
May our hearts accept the laws of God. May our minds learn his ways. May we receive the light. May we see things the way God sees them and accept the peace he offers. In spite of all the stupidity, inefficiency, wastefulness, cruelty, complacency, ignorance, rebellion, and stubbornness around us, we obtain peace and our souls are at rest in the kingdom of God when we are redeemed from our sins. Christ frees us from our traditions, customs, social norms, addictions, and habits. With the knowledge Christ gives, we are free to act and no longer be acted upon.
This is an earthly endeavor.