Saturday, April 6, 2013

Who Told You?

After Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, our Heavenly Father visited them in the Garden of Eden. Upon hearing that Adam hid himself because he was naked, God asks, "Who told thee that thou wast naked?" (see Moses 4:12-17)

Adam had transgressed the law and so may have been reminded by this question of his unauthorized actions. The Lord chastises those whom He loves.  Yet, God's inquiry was surely not about catching Adam as much as it was about teaching him. Adam had transgressed because he allowed others-- Eve in some accounts or Lucifer directly in others-- to persuade him to believe and act in a way that violated the commandment he had been given. God's question invited Adam to look to the sources of his beliefs and actions to determine their truth and worthiness.

Virtually every scriptural account is a story of individuals choosing which sources to believe and act upon. Despite Joseph's loyal service, Potipher chose to listen to the lies of his adulterous wife and threw Joseph into prison. Years later, the king of Egypt chose instead to listen to Joseph and so saved his entire nation from a seven-year drought.

Herod's soldiers, Jews that knew God had commanded thou shalt not kill, listened instead to the voice of their political leader and boss when they killed all of the infants and toddlers in and around Bethlehem at the sign of Christ's birth. At the same time, Joseph and Mary fled with their newborn to Egypt despite no evidence of any pending danger because Joseph listened to the voice of God's messenger in a dream.They left all they knew, all that their society would have considered normal, because they recognized the source of a single dream.

Lehi explained that 'the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by one or the other' (2 Nephi 2:16). These enticings come in every aspect of our lives as we choose which sources we will allow to influence our beliefs and actions. They may affect the language we use, how many children we have, what media we choose to consume, our political views, the food we eat, how we manage resources like time and money, and thousands of other choices we will make in our lives.

With each decision, even many of those that may seem small or insignificant, we choose whether we will listen to the voice of the Lord or to some other source. Moroni explained that 'every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.' On the other hand, 'whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God... is of the devil' (Moroni 7:16-17).

As we reflect on our own motivations and the sources we choose to believe, it is helpful to put ourselves in a figurative Eden where the Lord inquires, 'Who told you that was important?', 'Who told you that was good?' or 'Who told you to act and believe in that way?' Are the gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of his modern prophets informing our thoughts and actions or are we listening to some other voice?

In our daily lives, there are many other voices vying for our attention. Deceptive messages are wrapped in the rhetoric of love, a powerful consensus or trend, an animated 'family movie', peer-reviewed science, glamorous endorsements, laws, workplace mandates, incredible special effects or seemingly small habits that don't seem so bad.

We keep our baptismal covenants when we evaluate the sources of what we choose to believe by Moroni's standard: 'Does this persuade me to believe in Christ?' As we remain willing at all times to listen to the voice of God and his prophets, the Lord will guide our lives through the deceptions and droughts that surround us.