Short Take: We Are All Ministers

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter. We focused on the Book of Mormon in 2013. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there.

We’re often taught that to hold the priesthood is to be called to minister to God’s children – to teach, to help, to rescue, to lift. Certainly, most “priesthood” duties and assignments are to minister somehow; home teaching is the most universal example. A moment’s reflection informs us that the missions of the Relief Society and the Young Women organization are also to minister, so ministering is not solely the province of priesthood holders.

In Mosiah 18 Alma teaches that ministering is actually a universal assignment. At baptism, and again at the sacrament table, every Church member promises not only “to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people,” but also “to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; . . . to mourn with those that mourn; . . . to comfort those who stand in need of comfort, . . . and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (vv. 8-9). In other words, to minister.

Callings, assignments, and ordinations direct our ministry in some respects, but before any calling, beyond any assignment, and without any ordination, our Christian covenant is to minister to God’s children.

Short Take: “We Search the Prophets”

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter. We focused on the Book of Mormon in 2013. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there.

Nephi’s brother Jacob looks back on his life and writes, “We … had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophesy; wherefore we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come. … Wherefore, we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God. … We would to God … that all … would believe in Christ” (Jacob 1:6-8).

Later Jacob hopes that readers will receive his words “with thankful hearts.” He writes so “they may know that we knew of Christ … and had a hope of his glory” (Jacob 4:3-4).

Then he explains a key to their “many revelations and the spirit of prophecy”: “We search the prophets” (v. 6, my emphasis). He lists other happy results of doing this: hope, unshaken faith and the power which attends it, and, perhaps surprisingly, humility (vv. 6-7).

Touchscreens have replaced inscribed metal plates, and the prophets’ words are more available to us than they ever were to the Nephites. But some things are unchanged. Searching the prophets still leads to revelations and the spirit of prophecy, so that we know of Christ and can fix our faith, hope, and humility in him. Thus blessed, our work is as Jacob’s: to persuade others, by our labors and even by our writing, to come in faith, hope, and humility to Christ.

Short Take: 2 Nephi 2

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter. We focused on the Book of Mormon in 2013. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there.

I once heard Elder Jeffrey R. Holland say that, if you could keep only one chapter in the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2 would be the chapter to choose. It explains moral agency and shows it in its central role, connecting it to the fall and the atonement. Agency is the power inherent in all human souls to choose between good and evil, knowing which is which, and understanding that moral choices come with consequences.

Here Lehi also teaches something most of the religious world does not yet understand: The fall of Adam and Eve was no accident or surprise. It was part of God’s plan. Its ultimate results, because of the atonement, are life and joy: “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed . . . they have become free forever, knowing good from evil. . . . And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life . . . or to choose captivity and death” (2 Nephi 2:25-27).

Short Take: A Pattern in 1 Nephi 1

Here’s something in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 1) which is probably not a coincidence. Lehi’s experience parallels Joseph Smith’s.

In a time of great religious energy in Jerusalem (v. 4), Lehi goes to pray (v. 5). There comes a pillar of fire (v. 6), and he sees and hears much. He is physically exhausted by the experience (v. 7). Then he sees another vision, which includes the delivery of a book by a heavenly messenger (v. 11). The book is about God’s judgments on and the scattering of the House of Israel, and speaks plainly of the coming of a Messiah and the redemption of the world (vv. 13, 18-19).

Best of all, note that the book’s effects are the same as the Book of Mormon’s effects on us: “As he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 12). Lehi’s soul rejoices; his heart is full; he praises God (v. 14-15).

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter. We focused on the Book of Mormon in 2013. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there. A slightly more detailed exposition of  Lehi’s and Joseph Smith’s parallel experiences is here.