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Sunday, July 12, 2009

"I excuse not myself"

Today for Gospel Essentials class I taught a lesson about the Word of Wisdom. We had a handful of new members, a few returning less-active members, a new investigator and her less-active husband (at church for the first time). This was the first time I've had any new investigators in the class since I started teaching, several months ago.

Many of the lessons are pretty innocuous (topics like "honesty", or "prayer" that aren't likely to upset anyone - the sort of thing you might learn about at any Christian church). Then there are the lessons that are about things particular to our church (temples, pre-mortal life, etc) that would be different concepts for investigators, but still nothing to get upset about. And then, there are the touchy subjects: Tithing, Chastity, and the Word of Wisdom.

These are the same topics that can be nerve-racking to bring up to some people when you are a missionary. Knowing that you're about to explain the law of chastity to an unmarried couple that lives together, or the word of wisdom to a heavy smoker, isn't an easy task. You don't know how they're going to take it. This can be even more awkward when a brand new investigator comes to church and is presented with important ideas that you haven't had a chance to teach them about yet.

It also reminded me of the my full-time missionary days, when I'd worry about what investigators would think about the lessons/talks at church (and hope that the members didn't say anything crazy or too "deep"). I try to consider that when I teach a lesson.

To keep myself from worrying and over-analyzing, I remind myself of two things:

#1- The first time I went to church, as an 18 year old, I went to a Young Women's class with my slightly younger member friend (we were the only two in the class that day) and was presented with a lesson on temple marriage. The poor sister teaching must have been mortified (as I'm sure my friend was) to have me there for that particular lesson when I hadn't even had the first missionary discussion. I remember feeling slightly suspicious about the whole concept of the temple, since it seemed to me that it wasn't fair that only certain people could have access to the possibility of eternal marriage (of course, later I learned that everyone will eventually have that option, whether during this life or after). However, I never could deny that it was true, even if I objected to the idea (or I thought I did, anyhow). We can't recognize the truth unless we hear it, so we can't be afraid to say it, even if we are nervous about how someone will react. Could that teacher have guessed that over the next several years I would be baptized, serve a mission, and marry in the temple?

#2- The Lord said, "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (D&C 1:38). This scripture always reminds me that the Lord is the one who gives us the commandments, not man. He doesn't change his requirements because he's worried about someone getting offended or upset. He tells it like it is, and we have to, also. We can be sensitive to the feelings of others and do our best to present our message in a way that is easy to understand, but we can't water things down to fit the ways of the world. The honest in heart will hear the gospel message and accept it, whether it goes along with their current lifestyle, or not. "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself" is a mantra that I say in my head when I start to get nervous, and that helps me. Its not my gospel, it is Christ's gospel.

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to add that everyone present at the GE lesson about the Word of Wisdom is still active and the investigator was baptized by her (formerly less-active) husband last weekend! So, I was all worried for nothing!