Sunday, September 13, 2015

Are you Facing the world?

In Genesis 13 we read about Lot ( Abraham's Nephew ) facing his tent towards Sodom and Gomorrah.  

Genesis 13:
12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

Sodom and Gomorrah was  " located in the plain of Jordan and had become synonymous with evil because of the wickedness of their people." ( OT Seminary Teacher Manual) 

In Genesis 14 we learn that after Lot faced his tent towards Sodom and Gomorrah and he eventually moved into this wicked area, which then followed four local kings uniting their forces, attacking several cities (including Sodom and Gomorrah), and taking their inhabitants captive.

Lot ultimately was taken captive because he chose to face towards a wicked place. 

This example of facing the wrong way reminded me of the recent General Conference Talk Titled, " Which Way Do You Face" by Lynn G. Robbins. As I pondered as to why Lot may have decided to move into the wicked place I wondered; Did it look like fun? Was he worried he wasn't matching up to those around him? Was he influenced by others? Was he seeking for happiness in the wrong places?

"Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). It is forgetting which way we face. And yet, we have all made that mistake because of the fear of men. In Isaiah the Lord warns us, “Fear ye not the reproach of men” (Isaiah 51:7; see also 2 Nephi 8:7). 

When people try to save face with men, they can unwittingly lose face with God. Thinking one can please God and at the same time condone the disobedience of men isn’t neutrality but duplicity, or being two-faced or trying to “serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24; 3 Nephi 13:24).While it certainly takes courage to face perils, the true badge of courage is overcoming the fear of men. "
The Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual States:

Seemingly small choices can lead to large consequences. In Lot’s case, his decision to pitch his tent toward Sodom led to serious consequences."

Likely, Lot originally had no intention of going into the worldly place of Sodom and Gomorrah, but it began with his small choice to look into it. 

I am reminded of a lesson that I was taught by a wise person : We have no choice but to be surrounded at this time with the Great and Spacious Building all around us in the messages that we are sent, but the ways that we respond to what we see around us is a true manifestation of whether or not we are in the world, but not OF it. 

Matthew 6:25 :
And, again, I say unto you, go ye into the world, and care not for the world; for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues. 

I have found the best way for me to be in this world, but not of it - has been to seek to learn about the world that I want to be in someday ( God's kingdom ) . As I read the words of prophets and apostles in talks and scriptures I am given a portion of knowledge of what God's Kingdom is like. I have been given a portion of His Kingdom within me as I feel of His Spirit, and as the words in talks and scriptures come to my mind frequently - by way of the Spirit. 

I know as my children grow it will be increasingly difficult to withstand the temptation to not be influenced by the world. Although we are surrounded by the Great and Spacious Buildings messages, there are some places that we must refuse to go into as we choose where to spend our time, what we read, and those we choose to be friends with.

This story told by President Benson gives a great explanation of this principle: 

“I am reminded of a story of a young girl who, with her date, was going to a place of questionable reputation, against the wise counsel of her parents. Her question was, ‘What harm is there in just going in to see what goes on there?’ Her parents apparently gave in to her and suggested that she wear her lovely white dress for the occasion. Before her young man arrived, her father said, ‘Would you do me a favor before you go and go out to the smokehouse and bring in a side of bacon?’
“The girl was aghast at this request and said, ‘In my best dress? I would never get rid of that awful smell.’ Her mother said, ‘That is right, you can’t go into the smokehouse without absorbing some of the influence there. We think you are smart enough not to go into a  place where you would come out any less beautiful and clean than when you went in.’ With that wise counsel, this young girl made the right decision to keep herself unspotted and clean from evil influences in the world.”4
While I have so many things that I need to do better in order to be a better servant to my God that I love, I am thankful to know that where He is and where He wants us all to be is such a loving, peaceful, and perfect place. I know that we would not appreciate what our God is willing to give us if we had not had our trials and earthly experiences that teach us patience, hard work and enduring to the end. As we strive to become more like Him, we come to know better whom He is, and we love Him with a depth that could not have come to us in any other way. I love Him with all of my heart. 

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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