Monday, January 14, 2019

Changes in the Church: Separating the Wheat from the Tares

Sistas in Zion posted this to their Facebook page not long ago. It is a sentiment that I am finding expressed more and more often in the whirlwind of changes in the Church. This idea that the changes in the church will prove those who are truly the Church of God and those who are not.

Those who follow the prophet, do what he says, are those who will be proved faithful, and those who do not are simply not strong enough. The wheat and the tares will finally be separated.

I admit, I've had a very hard time with one of the changes. The manner in which church was shortened and this "Come Follow Me" program was rolled out has been a huge hit to my faith. Because of the 2nd and 4th/1st and 3rd alternate between Sunday School and "the Quorums" as I think of them, my kids will go months without one type of instruction or the other. This policy seems to have sprung from the mind of the privileged, those who have had the luxury of making their kids go to church every week, those who are firmly and safely in the center of the flock.

For those of us who, due to circumstance and the choices of others, find ourselves at the edges of the flock, battling the wolves every day, those of us whose faith resembles a battle-worn and beaten soldier rather than a beautiful woman dressed in white and holding a candle, this has been one more thin support kicked away from under our faith.

And despite my best efforts, I find myself caring less about church attendance than I did before. It just doesn't seem to be important any more.

But this idea that those like me for whom some of the changes heap more ashes on our heads are simply "not strong enough," this very real situation where those who have sinned differently than I, or who have been preserved from the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" are sitting high on their pedestals, judging those of us who are fighting for the survival of our children, friends, and family, has made me think.

I think they are right: all these changes in the Church are indeed a winnowing. The reason tares are not as worthwhile as the wheat is because they don't bear usable fruit. Like the olive branches with bitter fruit, and like tares, those who do not bear the fruits of repentance will find themselves on the wrong side of Judgment.

But what are these fruits of repentance?

Fortunately, we have a very simple and easy to understand parable to help us.

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

" 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

" 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

" 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

" 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

" 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

" 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

" 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

" 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

" 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Matthew 25

And, as the people of Zion

"...led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

"29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest."

Alma 13:28-30

You see, the fruits of repentance, the measure by which we will be judged is whether or not we have charity in our hearts.

So I think they are right, in a way. This is a time of division, where those of God and those who are not will be divided. But it is not between those who do everything the prophet says with exactness and those who are too weak to stay faithful. It is between those who have charity and those who do not. Those who, for whatever reason, do not follow the prophet must humble themselves and be charitable to those who have no problem with it. And those who are spiritually privileged must humble themselves and reach out to those who are fighting greater battles than they have ever known.

It's what Jesus would do.

1 comment :

  1. Personally, I love the changes - all of them - but for someone to comment that another person is lacking in faith is absolutely horrible. We ALL have our struggles in this life and we ALL will have, if we have not had already, "dark nights of the soul" when the reality of what is our personal life and struggles is just plain hard! For completely different reasons, attending church has sometimes been very hard for me and for my children also. I sympathize with your reaction and hope that you can find ways to make this work for you. I hope one of those ways is the support of friends and neighbors and those of us who see your message here. My heart goes out to you and to those who have so little charity that they would go out of their way to cause another pain. I have had my share of unjust criticism lately. May I never be guilty of such action toward others. You have written a beautiful - and heartrending article. I wish you well and pray for you and wish you lived next door to me so we could reach out to each other better!

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