Tuesday, November 15, 2016

To develop Gods

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Sunday Afternoon Session from the April 1974 Conference.
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. (Exodus 19:6)
I've been thinking about this…prophecy? commandment? from the Book of Exodus since I read it last week. "A kingdom of priests." It must have sounded so extravagant and incredible to the Israelites, who had their "bounds set" so that they couldn't even set one foot on the very border of the Holy Mountain where Moses ascended to see God! Who only guessed at God's presence beneath the "thick cloud." Who remained outside the holy of holies, waiting for the priest to intercede on their behalf.

With that on my mind, I was struck by two comments from this conference session which seemed connected to the idea of "a kingdom of priests":
Godliness in man goes undeveloped without the words of God and his program. (Elder Bernard P. Brockbank
The mark of real conversion is endurance. (Elder Hartman Rector, Jr.)
Here's how I think they connect: in these last days, God's words in Exodus are fulfilled. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed a "kingdom of priests." Our access to the powers of the priesthood is unprecedented. Literally ANY MEMBER has a chance enter God's temple and participate in priesthood ordinances, gain priesthood power, and exercise priesthood authority. The inner sanctum, amazingly, is open to all!

But what is the aim of priesthood, in the end? To be a priest is to be an apprentice in God's house—a god-in-training. And the only condition for entrance is that the apprentice follow "the words of God and His program"—that is, that he complete the course of training his master has set out. If we are to develop Godlike characteristics, we must participate in Godlike work. There is no other way.

And so two things are required: obedience, and time. The apprentice must continue in the training program until the master certifies him an apprentice no longer. Thus, "the mark of real conversion is endurance." We are ready to move on from Priesthood to Godhood when the master says we are ready. No sooner.

The ancient Israelites were not "a kingdom of priests." They had their "bounds set" by their own unwillingness to obey with patience. And in the latter days, Jesus Christ used that same phrase to describe the limits on traitors, false brethren, robbers, enemies, murderers, billowing surges, fierce winds, darkness, and even "the very jaws of hell": their bounds are set.

But for his priests? His apprentices? There are no boundaries to keep them away from God! "Hold on thy way," the Lord promises, "and the priesthood shall remain with thee…for God shall be with you forever and ever."

Our bounds are not set, unless we set them. "Hold on thy way." Keep practicing. Our choice to serve as priests (and, obviously, priestesses) in God's kingdom means that, provided we obey and endure in the program set before us, we are assured of a successful graduation from our apprenticeship.

God's program, followed faithfully, inevitably produces Gods.

Other posts in this series:

1 comment:

  1. Oh! I love this! It makes me think of the recent "yes you'll make it" conference talk. I was wondering about our Heavenly Mother this morning and thinking how desperately I wanted to know she loved me and was proud of me -- and how much I hope to be everything she surely is. But it seemed such a presumptuous almost irreverent thought. Reading this though made me feel like she would be pleased with that thought -- that SHE wants me to be able to become like her too. And what hope that if I keep following the prescribed path -- for a very very long time :) -- I actually can!

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