A Worthy Choice

#4 June21,2021

People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven when you are down

If you carry around, as many years as I do these words will be familiar to you as lyrics to a song recorded by The Doors. If you have ever chosen to seek a new and better direction for your life you understand just what the words are saying. When you move to a new town, you are strange. When you choose a new career, you are strange. When you jump feet first into a new social setting, you are strange. This is a part of the world we live in so you accept it as part of the choice you made, and you deal with it. But, there is a place where being strange is beyond our ability to accept, and it becomes a wall we cannot scale. 

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

When we choose to reach out to God and seek to become part of His purpose, to be strange and unaccepted by the people is just too much to bear, and you leave. It breaks my heart when I reach out to others and their response is, “God doesn’t want me. I am not good enough”.

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye the separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

Sadly the churches of the world have misunderstood what God was trying to convey in this verse and other like them. He was teaching them to turn away from the lust and pride the way of the world. In this misunderstood effort they throw aside God’s mandate to hate the sin but love the sinner. This was the way of Christ seemingly, they have forgotten.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

They seek to set themselves apart in a way that is exclusive, judgmental, and completely foreign to the ministry of Christ. Christ taught that all people were worthy to come to God and be a part of His Kingdom, but it seems as if His Church has set aside that teaching. Their God is a judgmental God worthy of fear. They limit their own understanding of the true loving nature of God and feel threatened by anything that looks or acts different from the accepted norm. They gather themselves around standards of dress and social obligation that have very little to do with the Gospel and the labor for God’s purpose. They set themselves upon a pedestal separate and aloof from the world around them in ways that God never intended to happen. They make a grievous and harmful mistake that in the end makes God unavailable to those He would love.

Matthew 11:29 Then spake Jesus, saying, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

I spent the better part of thirty years completely disgusted with those who claimed to be children of God. God calls them to be a peculiar people, but they were just like any other socially exclusive group in the world. Their magnificent buildings spoke more to the power of man than they did of a godly effort. Their ministry spoke more of my need to conform to their rigid traditions complicated rituals than it did of our need to grow in common understandings of the ways of God. They judged my worthiness based on so many useless worldly things that I couldn’t find the love of God anywhere. I finally decided that if this was what God wanted, I was truly not worthy, and I left.

Believe me when I say that this is a problem far more common than anyone wants to admit. It breaks my heart to realize how often those who claim to be His church misrepresent God and the ways of God. In fact the High Priest Alma brought both ministry and truth to those who suffered from this very problem and their own feelings of unworthiness. 

Alma 16:122-123

122 And it came to pass that after much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people; for behold, they were cast out of the synagogues, because of the courseness of their apparel;

123 Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues, to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness; therefore they were poor; yea, they were esteemed by their brethren as dross; therefore they were poor as to things of the world; and also they were poor in heart.

The ways of God are ways of humility and love. Those who truly serve God seek out the humble and the needy. God seeks that we destroy those walls built by the pride and lust that denote the world of man, but somewhere in the mix the human condition causes many to forget. God reaches out as Alma does here and seeks to comfort those in need.

Alma 16:124-126

124 Now as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah, there came a great multitude unto him, who were those of whom we have been speaking, who were poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world.

125 And they came unto Alma; and the one who was the foremost among them, said unto him, Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men, because of their poverty; yea, and more especially by our priests;

126 For they have cast us out of our synagogues, which we have labored abundantly to build, with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty, and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do?

Has your heart ever been plagued the question, “What shall I do”? I have and I truly wondered how I would ever come be a part of God’s purpose and did I even want to? Were these traditions of man really the ways of God and if so what am I to do? Will I ever not be strange?

Alma 16:129-132

129 Behold thy brother hath said, What shall we do? for we are cast out of our synagogues, that we cannot worship our God.

130 Behold, I say unto you, Do ye suppose that ye can not worship God, save it be in your synagogues only?

131 And moreover, I would ask, Do ye suppose that ye must not worship God only once in a week?

132 I say unto you, It is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom;

The ways of man will hide from us the truth of all that God wants us to know. “I am not good enough for God”, is a mistaken assumption we make based on the opinions of those who profess God with their mouths but live upholding the ways of the world. Our ability to humble ourselves before God is by far the most important attitude we can possess if we seek to be a part of His purpose. Saul of Tarsus (we know him by his Greek name Paul) and His choice to serve God testifies the truth of what it means to become good enough for God.

Acts 9:1-2

1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

In the days just after the crucifixion of Christ Saul/Paul was hired by the Priesthood of Judah to hunt down and arrest Christians that they might be tried and executed for the crime of heresy they committed by accepting Christ as their savior. Paul met Christ face to face on his way to confront and arrest the Christians of Damascus. According to the rules of many, Paul was definitely not a worthy minister for Christ, but perhaps, God saw it differently.

Acts 9:3-6

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven;

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Consider Paul’s response to Christ, ” Lord, what wilt thou have me to do”? His response to God was one of utter humility. In subsequent scripture we find that Paul was struck blind, healed of his blindness and allowed to go on his way. In humility to God, Paul went on to be a driving force in the spread of God’s word from Jerusalem all the way to Rome. His exploits are worth study, but for our purposes please denote that his humility to God turned him from an enemy of the Gospel to one of God’s most worthy ministers. He chose to be good enough for God. 

In my last essay, I shared with you a truth that is most valuable. Our place within the purpose that God offers is a choice. I believe that all those who feel themselves unworthy of God and the ways of God choose to be unworthy. In fact, it is such a strong part of my faith that within my heart I live with a mantra that I would like to share with you. 

“If I wake up one day and find myself dead and in Hell, it was not God who put me here. I am here by my own choice in spite of all that God was trying to do to save me”. 

In my frustration I felt the same way many do and I was ready give up on God and His purpose, but a kind man full of the true nature of God grabbed me by the hand and together we sought God in a very different way. I seek today to imitate his most loving proposal. Walk with me and look if you will at the evidence God brought to me and make a more informed choice. Dare to let the nature of God become that of a Father who wants each of us to come be with Him, forever. 

John 3:16-17

3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish; but have everlasting life.

3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:16 is a much repeated verse that has been a mainstay in evangelism for literally hundreds of years. It tells us of Christ’s connection to God and God’s love for all His children, but it does very little to dispel the belief that we and God as well as we and Christ are two very separate and very different beings. Further, it does nothing to allay our fears of a judgmental God seeking to condemn us for even the slightest mistake. But, when I finally added to the mix verse 17, everything changed. Lets break down this passage together. 

Start with the first words, “For God so loved the world”. I belong to the world. You belong to the world. Let’s personalize this verse by adding our name to it: “For God so loved Fred that He gave His Only Begotten Son”. Feel what God is trying to tell us and realize that to God it is just this personal. If this were not so, why would God work so hard to protect our own individual choice? Let’s take this theme one step further and raise God’s intent to another level and realize that Christ ministered so that Fred might make the choice to believe on Him. One step further and we come to realize that Christ suffered on the cross that Fred would not die. That Fred would have life everlasting.  

John 3:16-17

3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish; but have everlasting life.

3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Now, by using the same substitution on verse 17, we can uncover the true nature of God and His love for each of us. For God sent not his Son to Fred to condemn Fred; but that Fred through Him might be saved. 

Open your heart to all that is being said in this relatively short passage. Are we worthy of a life of purpose within God? Well, we must be. Otherwise the Gospel is a lie and God had His own Son live and die as a man for nothing. Understand also that, God mandated that Christ’s ministry was not to be one of condemnation; it was one of hope. As I read it all mankind is worthy of hope, salvation, and redemption, regardless of anything save their own choice to refuse Him.

To me, this information creates as many questions as it answers. For instance, if all are worthy of God’s Kingdom why are we even burdened with the need to make a choice. Why not just dispense with this earthly realm and go on to paradise and eternal life? That being a good question deserves a good answer, but I don’t think you are going to like the answer. We are not in Paradise with God because we chose not to be.

Genesis 1:27 And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so.

Genesis 2:9 Nevertheless, all things were before created, but spiritually were they created and made, according to my word.

Remember we are created in God’s image and that image is more than our physical appearance. We were created with both a body and a soul. We are creatures that are both temporal and spiritual, and like God we have the ability to choose. Add to that fact, we are spiritual creatures that inhabit a temporal realm and you will begin to understand the shear difficulty of being human and feeling worthy. Like all of God’s creation we were given a temporal body with temporal needs and all that is required to care for our temporal selves. Unlike the rest of creation we were given a spiritual presence with spiritual needs. God gave us not only the ability to choose; He gave us a choice to make.

Genesis 7:40 And in the garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also gave commandment, that they should love one another; and that they should choose me their Father.

Therein lies the crux of all we are seeking. God has deemed all mankind worthy of a life within His purpose. We must choose to either accept it or walk away. Our worthiness hinges on our willingness to respond to His call.  

This then is what I share with you today. Do not let the sinful pride of man separate you from your ability to choose for yourself to be worthy of God. Yes, you are good enough. Humble yourself before your heavenly Father and allow Him to lead you, teach you, and nurture within you your ability to labor with Him in His purpose. Seek out fellowship with people that love God more than they love a big building or a mandated ritualistic form of traditions before God. Look around you and you will see many people doing many good things. Reach out to your Father in Heaven, grab ahold of His hand, and ask Him to go with you and teach you how you might help them. Let Him be your source of joy and the leader of your life. Ask of Him all that you would seek to know and be patient in your beliefs and diligent in your growth. Remember, when all is said and done we play to an audience of one, and He is on ourside.

2 Nephi 14

14:4 Wherefore, I said unto you, Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

14:5 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye can not understand them, it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.

14:6 For behold, again I say unto you, that if ye will enter in by the way and receive the Holy Ghost, it will shew unto you all things what ye should do.

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