Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lord, what wilt thou have me do?

Paul on the Road to Damascus
To my LDS provide some context for the discussion that's going on about some of the new content the Church has put out, read the story of Peter and Paul, their relationship, as well as the story of the revelation Peter got concerning the gentiles in Acts 10. Start there. 

The relationship between the two men is an amazing insight into what real men as apostles and prophets are like. "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (1 Cor. 1:27). Yet, you wouldn't question the calling or inspiration of Paul or Peter. 

I can't imagine the accepting of the gentiles to be less than any issue our Church has ever faced. Let's not forget that. Christ in His own ministry did not even go to the gentiles. In fact, Indeed, he said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24), and he had specifically told the Apostles as he sent them on missions: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:…“But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10:5–6.)

Yet, here was Peter, in Acts 10, receiving a revelation to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul of course jumps on board that revelation and finds his purpose  - to be the apostle to the gentiles. He becomes their champion. And perhaps his passion was a bit too much at times. Paul often is open about his weakness. Later, when Peter seems to have gone back on the revelation by not eating with gentiles, receives a very public and harsh rebuke from Paul (who really didn’t handle it very well). I can only imagine the whole of the situation – the reasoning for Peter and how he dealt with Paul, and everything that came with this. The issue would have been very difficult for them all. Especially Peter, since he was in Jerusalem and with the Jews pretty much all the time. There was obvious danger and a different context there than out amongst the gentiles.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about Paul (my favorite person in the scriptures besides Jesus). This story reminds me a lot of the Church today and the issue of race and the priesthood. I mean, can you imagine prior to the revelation to Peter what kinds of things Peter and Paul would have said and thought about gentiles and their position in the Church, etc? I’m sure they would have had their statements that would be in direct conflict with the later revealed truth.

I just think that before we become offended, angry, questioning, disappointed, or whatever else, we should remember. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isa. 55:9).

Let us have patience and faith. Paul was once a Pharisee, who was offended by Christ and his teachings, his prophets, and apostles. He would have objected to what they said, how they did it, and everything – through his learning and wisdom. But once he was converted, it was different. His first words were, “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?”

Maybe we should ask more, “Lord what wilt thou have me do?” For that is what a converted Christian asks.  The statement, What Would Jesus Do seems a bit cheesy to most, but honestly, isn’t it really that simple in many ways? Yet, we have so many who seem to want to be Pharisees more than Christians and argue about the “rightness” of everything, about who is inspired and who isn’t, what should have been done, what was said that was wrong, and on and on.

For me…my witness comes from the Spirit, not history, not opinion, nor any “fact” or interpretation of “fact”. For my view is indeed limited. When it is difficult to know of things, I know the Spirit of God never faileth. Instead of taking our concerns or doubts to Facebook, let us take to our knees, to the scriptures, and to the virtues of patience, love, and faith.

I guess I want to just make a plea for all: Trust me, I love Paul, but Paul was wrong to publicly take on Peter like that. I’m quite sure that his passionate approach was part of his “thorn in my flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-9). As much as Paul might have even been right in the content and principle, he wasn’t in his approach. When we take to public forums like Facebook and blogs to criticize and question, etc, it does not forward the cause of Christ. I’m sure that is not what the Lord would answer with if we asked him, “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?”