Monday, August 31, 2015

Called of God

In our religion in our generation, we put a lot of emphasis on the phrase "called of God" and those we claim are called of God.

I won't argue whether any making that claim or any making that claim for others really are called of God. I will just point out that being called of God in the long run might not mean much, and I will explain why.

We should put less emphasis on the calling. It will aid in our humility, especially since the calling is only the invitation to do. It is not the actual doing. If we glory in the calling, and forget about the doing, then the whole thing was in vain.

Lots of people are called:
Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? D&C 121:34

Any calling by God is a test for us. We are given it to prove ourselves, to show we ought to be chosen. Sure, God likely knows what we will or won't do beforehand, but we also probably wanted the opportunity ourselves, and we can not be given the rewards of a challenge we haven't taken. Heavenly Father knew He could trust Jesus to fulfill the Atonement, and we all trusted Him to do so in the premortal existence, but He still had to go through with it.

Unfortunately for us, just because we are called doesn't mean we will end up proving ourselves of anything except not being ready.
Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson-- 
That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the Powers of Heaven, and that the Powers of Heaven cannot be controlled nor handled, only upon the principles of righteousness. 
That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control of dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or authority of that man. 
Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. 
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. 
Hence many are called, but few are chosen. D&C 121: 35-40
A phrase that sticks out to me here is "ere he is aware." This is a sad phrase. I can picture it in my head, this person, while still trumpeting being called of God, is unaware that he is left to his own devices. He still probably thinks that he's doing it in the name of the Lord, while instead is fighting against Him.

He has not been chosen.

Worse still is the 35th verse which says this is the nature and disposition of ALMOST ALL MEN. This is alarming indeed and a warning for us all, man or woman. This should tell us that an individual who is not only called, but also chosen, is very, very, very rare.

We are given, particularly if we have asked, the opportunity to receive greater light and knowledge, but in our diligence to the laws in front of us, we miss those opportunities. Consider the problem of this scripture:
Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. Ezekiel 20:24-25
How is someone called into this situation supposed to act or judge? Does he follow the law and stone the adulterers? Or does he go against the law and forgive the repentant offenders? I've talked a little bit about how we ought to judge here.

Also, though the Israelites were commanded in the law of Moses to offer animal sacrifices to the Lord, David had this to say about it:
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. D&C 51:16-17
The purpose of the commanded sacrifices was not in their performance alone, but in what it was supposed to point them to, something greater, something that would help them to rise up. God didn't want an animal killed, so much as he wanted a person with a broken and contrite heart to approach Him, a person so humble that the will of the natural man (the part inclined to pride, vain ambition, the desire to cover one's sins, or to use dominion or compulsion) is laid aside, and the heart is laid bare before the Lord.

This is the rare individual that is not only called, but chosen.

This is the person that sees through the things he's "supposed to do," to the things God desires of him.

Saul and David are good Old Testament examples of men who were both called of God. When the Israelites went against the will of God and insisted on having a king to rule over them, God sent Samuel the prophet to Saul. He was a humble and good man at the time. Samuel anointed him king. Saul even showed gifts of the Spirit when he began prophesying among the prophets, but though he was called by God through Samuel, he soon followed after his own inclinations, good intentioned as they may have been. And He was left to kick against the pricks, though he remained king.

Samuel secretly anointed David after this, when he was a humble child looking after his father's flocks. He was chosen over his many strong older brothers. So, all the time that both Saul and David lived, both were anointed and called by God to be king over the Israelites. During this time, Saul would go from favoring David, to being jealous of him when he began to suspect David was his replacement. And he sought to have David killed over and over and over again, though David was innocent of any wrongdoing against Saul.

Saul lived a long time, and David was in his 40s (I'm going off memory) before he inherited the kingdom.

Just as in the case of Saul, being called whether through a man, prophet, angel, or God Himself doesn't mean much if that's where it ends. Being called isn't something worth boasting about, and really ought not be. It's only the invitation. Are you going to boast about an invitation, show it to everyone, and then forget to attend the actual event?

It's also my opinion that we shouldn't boast about someone else being called of God. Because you know what? From the scriptures, I know Saul was called of God...

...And a fat lot of good it did him and the Israelites.

Defy the natural man instead and be chosen. It's what you choose and what you do after you are called that determines this.

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