Friday, April 29, 2005

So, who should we strive to be like?

Some of the greatest deceptions of our time are the messages that entice us to become someone we are not. Advertisements and the media urge women to become anorexic, vain, air-brushed vamps - men to become debonair, sensual, power-hungry yet carefree jocks. (That sounds like a candidate for multiple personality disorder diagnosis!) For all of us to lust after cutting edge technology, or lust after the opposite, or any sex. These messages are apparently effective at keeping our economy going strong. They sell products; they keep people motivated to earn and spend on the things that help us become the people in the ads. It matters little that the basest instincts of humanity are invoked to achieve these purposes. This all occurs at the secular level.

I've observed a more puzzling and hypocritcal attitude at the religious level. In Christian writings, the Bible in particular, there are numerous admonitions to become "more Godly", "more Christlike". Most Christians are familiar with the concept of our "Heavenly Father", or "our Father, which art in heaven..." What does that make us, Iguana? No. We are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father; of the one true God. The Bible sets forth a high ideal for our lives and our eternity. We have a heritage and a purpose. But most of today's religions do not take this relationship with God very seriously. They water it down and spiritualize it. They take the reality out of it. They read and quote the words but deny the meaning - they deny our hertitage and our potential.

So when a group of people (LDS) come along who read and understand the words of Scripture for what it says, they are ridiculed and called a blaspheming cult. What are some of the words of the Bible that describe who we are and who we can become?

Genesis 3:22 - "Man is become one of us." Who is quoted here? Certainly not the Iguana! Sounds like God the Father and His son making an assertion.

Psalm 82:6 - "Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most High"

Matthew 5:48 - "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." Is this a trick request of Jesus, something that is unatainable? Or was He serious?

John 10:34 - "Is it not written in your law...Ye are gods?"

Acts 17:29 - "...we are the offspring of God."

Romans 8:16-17 - "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

2 Corinthians 3:18 - "But we all, with oopen face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

Ephesians 4:13;15 - "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ...may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."

1 John 3:2 - "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him..."

Revelation 3:21 - "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Elsewhere Scripture teaches that in our mortal form we can't even lay our eyes upon Him without being destroyed. And here we have the "overcomers" sitting on God's throne right next to Him. What's different here?

What do these verses all mean? Are they random verses taken out of context, meaning something different from what they appear to say? Or do they represent a central theme of God's word, that God is our Heavenly Father, we are heirs of Christ, are urged to follow him, become like him, and someday sit down with our Heavenly Father in his throne. What does that make us, Iguana?

Are we to take these verses as symbolism, as literary license? God forbid, that would be the road to spiritualize away the person and work of Christ himself! Might as well study "Gone With The Wind" and yearn for Tara! Then instead of Iguana, we could call ourselves Tara-dactyls.

What are the evangelicals and other "orthodox" Christians trying to get at when they disparage Latter Day Saints for taking the words of the Bible seriously? From my study and understanding, they are denying a principal doctrine of Scripture, they are denying the power of God, and believing that we, sons of God, can never be more than sinful humans. They are saying "God forbid that we would become like gods!" In reality, God does NOT forbid that we become like gods. He commands us to!

Many of us see through a mirror so dimly that we think that what we are is all we can ever be. I guess in my career as a planner, I am trained to look ahead a bit. But this is really looking ahead. Certainly we will not reach Godly stature in this lifetime. But to deny that we will ever be capable, or have the hope of achieving the status promised in Scripture is denying God's power. And never to be forgetten is the immutable fact that our Heavenly Father is and always will be our Heavenly Father, the one true God, whatever we might become.

The heading of this article is a link to a wonderful Jeff article titled "The Divine Potential of Human Beings: The Latter-day Saint Perspective." There is even a section in that link titled "Do any objective, qualified, non-Mormon experts agree that early Christians thought that they could become gods?" For those wanting to explore this topic further, that is a great place to start.

A note of humilty and reality - Just as salvation cannot be presumed based only on the overly simplistic and isolated admonition of "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou wilt be saved", the ultimate "god" status spoken of in Scripture is not a slam dunk, either. Just as they say in the TV infomercials: "Wait, there's more!" There is also the "James" part of Scripture and all the other parts about keeping commandments and helping our neighbor while maintaining a saintly attitude, etc. Most of us lack the faith needed to trust we won't get mugged helping a stranger change a flat tire. And even more of us have difficulty comprehending the possibility of accepting the truth of the Scriptures quoted above, never mind the number of millenia that it might take to realize it. There is a lot of testing and proving to be done through the eternities. But our faith in Christ and our efforts in the here and now in this life is our continual starting point. This brings even more significance to the Biblical mandate to "persevere to the end."

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