RS/MP Lesson 5: “The Grand Destiny of the Faithful” (Lorenzo Snow Manual)
Posted by Robert C. on March 2, 2013
If your life is like mine, it can be rather discouraging. And, although being Mormon has its benefits, there are times when being Mormon contributes to this discouragement. I struggle to do my hometeaching. I struggle to say my prayers regularly and meaningfully. I struggle to find time to study my scriptures at all, let alone ponder them deeply.
To me, the real message of this lesson is one of encouragement: we are offspring of God, and remembering our divine potential can help us overcome discouragement, or other distractions.
I like the Question 1 at the end of the lesson: “President frequently taught that we are children of God. How can this truth influence the way we feel about ourselves and others?”
It’s one thing to talk about the abstract idea that we are God’s children. But who cares? Why does that matter? How often do we think about this doctrine, and what difference does it make?
Pres. Snow says:
I had not been in this Church [very long] when it was clearly shown to me what a man could reach through a continued obedience to the Gospel of the Son of God. That knowledge has been as a star continually before me, and has caused me to be particular in trying to do that which was right and acceptable to God. . . . It seems, after all the education that we had in things pertaining to the celestial worlds, that there are some Latter-day Saints who are so well satisfied with simply knowing that the work is true that when you come to talk to them of our great future they seem surprised, and think it has nothing to do particularly with them. (p. 86, emphasis mine)
This description of being “so well satisfied with simply knowing” hits home. How often do we sit back content simply to know truth, in the abstract, without this knowledge having any active effect on how we feel or live?
There are three basic ways we can respond to this teaching that we are God’s children:
1. We can respond indifferently, like those Pres. Snow chastises for being “so well satisfied.”
2. We can be discouraged—after all, if we are divine offspring, why do we constantly fail to live up to that potential?
3. We can rejoice.
How does God want us to respond to this prophetic teaching about our divine nature? Why don’t we respond this way more? How frequently do we opt for #1 or #2 above, and why?
Pres. Snow says:
We frequently, in the multitude of cares around us, get forgetful and these things are not before us, then we do not comprehend that the gospel is designed and calculated in its nature to bestow upon us those things that will bring glory, honor and exaltation, that will bring happiness, peace and glory. We are apt to forget these things in the midst of the cares and vexations of life, and we do not fully understand that it is our privilege, and that the Lord has placed it in our reach to pursue that gospel whereby we may have peace within us continually. . . . Where is there cause to mourn? Where is there cause for the Saints to wear long faces? Where is there cause for weeping or repining? There is none. (pp. 89-90, emphasis mine)
How is the gospel “designed . . . [to] bring glory, honor and exaltation”? Why are we so “apt to forget”? What “cares and vexations of life” get in the way of our rejoicing in the fact that we are God’s children?
The sacrament seems to be one weekly ritual instituted to help us remember God’s love for us, and our divine potential. Although I have often felt very humbled during the sacrament, I can’t say that I have ever experienced discouragement at this time. Perhaps that’s because the sacrament is so focused on Christ’s sacrifice for us. He died for us.
Why did Christ die for us? Because we are God’s children. Because we have divine potential. Because he believed in us, believed that we would remember our divine potential, that we would want to become like God, that we would be humble enough to repent every time we fell short, but that our repeated failures would not discourage us because they would not change the fact that we our God’s children.
Pres. Snow quotes Philippians several times in this lesson. In particular, he quotes Philippians 3:14 on p. 88. I think the larger context of that verse is helpful in giving Pres. Snow’s message its full resonance. Here is the NET translation of Philippians 3:13-15:
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this [perfection]. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view.
Perfectionism is discouraging. But aren’t we commanded to be perfect?
As I read Paul, being perfect is is different than an attitude of perfectionism. Rather, being perfect, in the Gospel sense, entails “forgetting those things that are behind”—after all, we are all prone to sin at times—and to keep “reaching out for the things that are ahead.”
And what is ahead? As this lesson makes abundantly clear: exaltation. Now that is cause to rejoice.