We are living through the end of a unique time in the world’s history. For one of the only times in the world’s history, the Lord’s work has been openly embraced. Through that period of time, we experienced unimaginable blessings. When I was younger, we had a black and white television. Now I carry a smart phone that has a higher resolution than any television that existed before around 2000 A.D. Computers were invented just a little while before I was born. Now that same telephone I have in my pocket has more computing power than the computers that put a man on the moon. It is absurd, when you think about it, how quickly and how positively the world is changing.
It is no coincidence, in my mind, that these leaps forward occurred during a time and in a place where Christianity was embraced. Even Asia, with its rocky relationship with Christianity, is far more tolerant than they have been in the past. We lived in a time when friendship with the God did not seem to insist upon enmity with the world (and vice versa). But the feeling lingers that this was just a brief respite from history, and current pressures are going to reestablish the old hostility. Whether it be the abortion mandates, the murder of the Coptic Christians in Egypt, or any number of other examples, the writing seems to be on the wall that Christianity will no longer be as accepted in the world as it once was. And, while I have enjoyed the comforts of living through this time, I have to wonder whether that loss of acceptance within the world might not be a good thing.
I believe that the close relationship the world has with Christianity has probably done a far amount to damage the members of the Church. We find ourselves more and more enjoying the lifestyle that comes with mainstream acceptance. We find it easier to “go along to get along” rather than standing as witnesses in all times and in all places. I well understand Brigham Young’s concerns about the members of the Church falling to affluence in a manner they would never fall to persecutions. So if Christianity is to be displaced from its position of respect in the country and in the world, so be it. I don’t rejoice in that fact (because of the good that Christianity can do in that position), but I accept that it is more of a return to the status quo. I remember that friendship with the world is enmity with God and I make my choice to side with Him.
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A great amount of these chapters was dedicated to the importance of not judging others. This is such a simple command, yet so hard to fully put into practice. As a practical matter, I wonder how I should best do this. For example, if someone does something destructive to me (and it happens from time to time), how do I interact with them in the future? Do I ignore the injury that took place, do I recognize it as a potential risk, or do I shun the person who injured me? And isn’t it possible that I could still be judging them regardless of whichever action that I took in response? This judging is a pernicious evil. I thought I didn’t have this problem, but as I consider it I begin to realize that it is something that has managed to burrow deeply into my soul without me noticing – and will be difficult to extricate.
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One final thought – I appreciate the idea that our plans and our goals must have the caveat that they are only to be achieved “Lord willing.” I sometimes forget that, when I dedicate myself to achieving certain goals. I lay my ears back and focus in a single-minded fashion on the end result and drive myself there through any obstacles along the way. That is a method that I have found that works for me, but there is no room in that method for “Lord willing.” I am not certain how to integrate it, but I am convinced now that I must integrate it – because regardless of how good I think my plans are the best idea is a failure if it is not in the Lord’s will.