Gospel Doctrine lesson #8: Living Righteously in a Wicked World
Genesis 13-14; 18-19
My previous 2010 post on this lesson may be found here. It brings up several ancient documents on Abraham and Melchizedek to help us understand who they are, and the priesthood, better.
Given what I've written at my previous post, I wanted to add only a few key thoughts.
First, it is amazing how the world has drifted further from God in just 4 short years. As noted, Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of the homosexuals living there. It was destroyed because wicked people were imposing their will upon good people. They insisted on having Lot's guests, whether they were willing or not.
Today we have questionable laws and requirements being placed upon us in the United States and elsewhere, because the wicked believe their behavior must not only be considered acceptable, but honorable and preferred. While marriage has struggled for decades due to divorce and infidelity, it is now being replaced by new definitions of marriage. While abortion has been legal for decades, religious people and organizations are now being forced to financially pay for the "right" to contraceptives and abortifacients. Youthful rebellion against modesty, chastity, and righteousness are now part and parcel of all of society. Our media cherishes and promotes sexual promiscuity, the cheapening of women as sex toys, and replacing commitment and true love with sex and pleasure. Society is destroying itself, and they don't seem to notice.
Today's heroes are Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. Modern society crowds into its great and spacious building in the air, pointing fingers and mocking the few who eat at the tree of life.
We are to be in the world, but not of the world. It is now that we as Latter-day saints and other Christians must show ourselves holy, even if it means we are not popular. We cannot partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life and then shamefully slink away into forbidden paths. We cannot be like Lot, who placed himself in the path of destruction, and then delayed until the last minute - having angels literally pushing him out the walls of the city. We cannot drag our feet when it comes time to choose. We cannot have one foot in Zion and one in Babylon.
Our choice is to dwell safely in the wilderness, as did Abraham, building altars and worshiping God as we've been taught. Then, when the time comes, Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness and Prince of Peace will come to take us to the city of Salem or the city of New Peace (Jerusalem) to go no more out. But we now must decide just which side of the fence we will be on. There is no more time to sit on the fence, as did Lot. We cannot have our tent facing towards Sodom, while serving God.
The Lord has called upon us to prepare the world for the last days. It is our responsibility to begin harvesting the wheat and separating out the tares. We must choose God all the way, or as with Lot, we will find ourselves standing amidst the devastation of the last days. It is easy to pretend it will not happen in our day. Yet, whether the end comes via commotions in the world, or our own death at old age, we will eventually meet that point of decision.
I recall as a youth my stake patriarch William Maughan sharing his testimony and special experience with the stake, which I will share here. This was an event that took place about a century ago. As a young man, he was strong and worked hard. He decided to get a second job, so as to make twice as much money for his young family.
However, one night as he slept, an angel came to him. The angel guided him outside, where the world was all white and light. As he described it, all things were in there place, nothing was out of place. They entered a large building in which was a very large room. In the back, he saw many of his loved ones that had previously died. Before him were two stands, with a man on each. The angel told him to choose between Jesus and Satan. Initially he thought that would be an easy choice. However, as he looked at them, he could not tell them apart. He feared to make a choice, and collapsed on the floor. He awoke in his bed, so weak he was unable to leave his bed for a week.
He then chose to spend his life getting to know Christ and be a true follower.
For the world today, they have a difficult time distinguishing between Satan and Christ. The devil has wrapped up his lies in pretty packages that can even deceive the elect if they are not careful. In our effort to not judge or offend, we can be swept up in the things of the world. We spend our lives doing normal things that do not seem bad: work, play, etc. However, we do not seek out God, and leave his work to be done by others. We choose the easier path of Lot into the fertile plains, rather than the tough climb through the highlands like Abraham. We cannot look back, as did Lot's wife. We cannot waffle between right and wrong, as did Lot.
As with Abraham and Melchizedek, we must seek diligently the priesthood and its power in the ways God would have us receive them. We must become the true seed of Abraham, willing to sacrifice all on the altar of God. We must flee to Zion, her stakes, and her temples. We must flee Sodom while it is still safe to flee it.