Saturday, March 26, 2011

Searching for Meaning - My Membership in God's Kingdom

As I have looked over the various discussions on the internet I have found that it isn't uncommon for members (generally females - but I think that is only because they discuss heart issues) to be struggling with finding meaning in their church membership. They express their deep concerns with this problem, particularly when they believe in the Book of Mormon etc.

I have recently read of one sister's struggles, who has had her father leave the church; and he had been a bishop and her rock to rely on in regard the church.

People will often quote how they enjoyed youth activities and even service in the church. And often how they were greatly influenced for good by some member who may have been a teacher etc. Yet the struggle inside themselves goes on to find identity and a oneness with it all.

Some more active members may point and say, "oh well, they were probably smoking and not paying their tithing, I'll bet." And it certainly is true that this doesn't contribute to feeling part of the thing. But if these problems do exist they may just be another sign of the true problem, rather than its cause. Healing these problems may only be healing the symptoms.

So what should all really be looking for in our church membership? How do we make it fulfilling? Why do some carry on for years and then suddenly go off, while others carry on for years without deviating?

The answer is actually in the name of the church, and we hear it all the time. Jesus Christ. No, I'm not blaspheming. That is what is missing in people's church experience. I will explain this in more detail. But put simply; they are trying to create a relationship within the church system rather than a relationship with deity. Then wondering why they don't feel spiritually fulfilled.

Jesus Christ said, "For this is life eternal, that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3

The life Christ promises is by developing a personal relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It isn't about developing a personal belief in the bishop or other church administrators. These may be wonderful people. Some may be very inspired. But creating a relationship with them won't produce eternal life. And trying it this way is just attempting a short cut.

"And Enoch walked with God: and was not, for God took him." Gen 5:24

When we read of someone speaking to God face to face or walking with God it is sad that so many just put it off as something done by someone in some exalted position - "the prophet." Yet Joseph Smith had no position when visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ due to the enormous faith and sincerity of his prayer at 14. And what position did Lehi have when called upon to preach to those in Jerusalem (he had no priesthood authority at all)? And what of the child Samuel who was spoken to by God to give instruction to the prophet (church president) Eli?

Jesus Christ stated, "Draw near to me and I will draw near to you, seek me diligently and you shall find me; ask, and you shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened to you." D&C 88:63

Jesus also stated, "See, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20

In these verses Jesus has presented that he stands at the door and knocks. Note that he is there waiting for us. As we draw near to him he can draw near to us. He promises us that he is very willing to create this communication and oneness with us, it only requires our willingness also to make it happen. We have to open the door to our hearts to him in all sincerity, so that he can enter: He can't kick the door down. We are free and independent; and must remain so (D&C 93:30).

Some may ask then, what should my feelings in regard the church organisation be?

We need to learn to worship God all week in the heart; then go to church with the idea of finding opportunities to serve others. If something I say can make it easier for someone to live the gospel more fully then I have done good. Many opportunities exist for service in the church through callings. If we don't have a calling we can find service opportunities there ourselves. Even such things as thinking and presenting comments in Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society/Young Women's can help others to focus on their spiritual life. Don't underestimate the importance of such things.

Jesus prayed to the Father in regard all those who believe in him _

"That they all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us...." John 17:21

Jesus Christ wants us to be one with him and the Father. We need to get into our heads that we can have that perfect oneness and come to know them as well as we know ourselves. Through this oneness our life in the church will obtain true and full meaning.

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