Well, it was a busy weekend, so I'm not going to do a post today. Instead, I thought I'd give some cleaning tips. Hah! Just kidding. I'm not really going to do that. But it was a busy weekend.
No, I am doing a post today. It's something I've been thinking about for a long time now--something I noticed in my recent re-reading of the New Testament. In my opinion the implications of these few verses are stunning and profound.
Many people are familiar with the story of the young man who came to Jesus and said, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
Jesus of course answered that he should keep the commandments--honoring his parents, refraining from adultery, dishonesty and so forth.
The young man replied that he had done all these things since his youth.
Then, the scripture says, "And Jesus, beholding him loved him..." That's important to note. Jesus's response to this young man's obedience was one of love and appreciation.
So what did Jesus do? Compliment him? Commend him? Promise him eternal life?
None of the above. He challenged him. "One thing thou lackest. Go they way and sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor..." (Mark 10:21).
The implications of this phrase are, as I said profound. Possibly revolutionary for teachers, parents, church leaders. Here was someone who had done good work. Instead of cheering him, Jesus challenged him to do better work and gave him what I call a threshold commandment--a personalized challenge that pushed him up to the very threshold of his faith.
Sadly, the young man was not ready to step through the threshold, unlike some of the others Jesus encountered who were able to stretch to that threshold (see here, for example).
But that's not the point. The point is that we live in a culture where we have compliment inflation. Everything that is average or mediocre is good. Everything that is good is great. Everything that's great is amazing. And so on.
And yes, I like compliments as much as anyone. But Jesus, who loves us more deeply and dearly than anyone did give compliments willy-nilly. He was honest--and he challenged those he loved.
I've learned with my voice students that I cannot compliment them into singing well. I cannot help them get over bad habits and develop good ones by praising them. I have learned that my writing group cannot help me polish my manuscript by telling me how awesome I am. They have to point out the flaws and challenge me.
And so it is with us spiritually. If we want to grow, we have to be challenged and pushed. We have to be stretched.
Don't get me wrong, I love to get a good compliment. And I think it's important to encourage and support But the key is to understand that this challenging is actually an expression of God's love.
It has been a busy weekend. And a busy Monday so far. I am working on a few book reviews of really interesting books and I'm excited to post them in a few days.
Meanwhile, I got my first email today from a reader that I didn't know at all either through blogging or a past life. That was fun. This wonderful reader had no purpose in writing except to tell me something cool about her experience with my book.
But, enough about me. I wanted to talk about something I've noticed as I've been reading the New Testament this last time around. I have a completely new and enhanced picture of the Savior and I've really learned some cool things.
The first clue to what I'm talking about is found in Matthew 4: 18-22. This is where Jesus called his first apostles, Peter, Andrew, then James and John. The text is interesting. Jesus saw them and said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." The text then says, "And they straightway left their nets, and followed him" (vs. 19-20)
The same thing happened with James and John: the Savior saw them and called them, and they followed Him. In their case, the text says "They immediately left their ship and their father and followed him" (vs. 22).
The words "straightway" and "immediately" are in my mind as I read these accounts. I know I'm not the only one to notice these modifiers, but I am interested to think about what they mean--and what they mean about the Savior's expectations for our service. But more on that later.
Are you all a little tired of The Road Show yet? It's ok, you can be honest. I will admit I'm a little tired of it! I love it and am happy with it and hope it does very well. And, I'm sure I'll be blogging more about it in days to come. But how about we change the subject today?
I do apologize for being behind on my reading of all your blogs. It's been a youth trip to Palmyra, then a youth conference and work stuff and Road Show stuff, so I'm a bit behind. I'll get caught up, though.
For a few months now, I went back to reading the four gospels in the New Testament. I felt myself wanting to reconnect to the Savior. I wanted to refresh my understanding of His life and ministry. I want to be able to follow His example--and to do that, His example needs to be fresh and clear in my mind.
It has been a wonderful experience, a reminder of things I've learned before, and a chance to learn things I had not considered. I've decided all start blogging about some of the thoughts I've had because, well, because I want to and this is my blog. A lot of the things I've noticed this time have to do with discipleship--what it is and how it seems to work. I've noticed some patterns that seem common in the experiences of all that came to Christ then. I think they are still in place for those who come to Him today.
When I opened up to the first page of the Book of Matthew a few months ago, I was overwhelmed by a sweet and profound peace. The strength and comprehensiveness of this peace overwhelmed me. It was like I was returning to a special place, a safe place, a place I knew well. The Book of Mormon uses a phrase I like, "encircled...in the arms of his love." (2 Nephi 1:15). That was how I felt that night.
My spirit bathed in the warmth and love and peace that flowed from my reading that night and when I was finished, i went to sleep, feeling exactly like a small child wrapped in his father's loving embrace.
It's not that the scriptures in the opening of Matthew are so beautiful or powerful that they stirred my spirit. To the contrary--it's 17 verses of "begats". But that was when I felt this love and peace.
It is a little like passing through a very plain front porch and entryway into a home where your parents or grandparents live--a warm and cozy place you feel safe and loved.
But beyond that, I think it was the Holy Spirit saying, "Yes, this is where you should be tonight," validating my attempt to reconnect and renew my acquaintance with my Master.
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