16 March 2008

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Posted in Arrangement, Art, Business

Card-Carrying Nephites

I hope that you all had a propserous Pi Day last Friday. We ate pizza from The Pie for the fourth Pi Day in a row (I think that qualifies as a tradition), and had a pi recitation contest. Several nerd jokes were exchanged and we had a moment of awe-struck silence as we sat pondering how hopelessly nerdy we were.

I could probably call myself a "card-carrying" pi geek, as opposed to your run-of-the-mill pi geek, as when random people say in my general direction, "Hey, Pi man!" I turn my head as naturally as if they had called me by name. Over the years, a childhood fetish has gradually turned into a portion of my identity to the point that, over the years, I have acquired a pi tie, a pi plate, and a pi business. Now, see if you can beat that!

Anyway, I'm sure that each of us is passionate about something to the extent that it is part of our identity, or, in other words, that we could say we are "card-carrying" members. I thought about all of this over the weekend as I read 2 Nephi 31-33 where we hear a lot about Nephi's inner feelings and interpretations of the gospel and the formula for a relationship with Christ. Could Nephi be said to be a "card-carrier" of anything? Other than Gold's Gym, of course... ("young, yet large in stature") What about Laman and Lemuel? (Card-carrying members of the Hearing Impaired, members of the Union of Iron Sinew Manufacturers, ...)

Silliness aside, several people would probably comment on his faith, his love for his people, and so on. He was a "card-carrying" prophet by all means.

In 2 Nephi 31-33, Nephi spends nearly the entire time talking about what it means to be a card-carrying Disciple of Christ. Nephi, without drawing negative comparisons, shows what testimony-having disciples can do to take their relationship to the next level, and he does it by introducing us to four brothers in the gospel who are "card-carrying Nephites": Bro. Real, Bro. Steadfast, Bro. Hungry, and Bro. Consecrated.

Bro. Real

You've met Brother Real before. He is the brother who is not afraid to admit that he is imperfect, neither to his contemporaries nor to the Lord. He is the brother who sees no profit in presenting a facade of himself to others, including the Lord, in order to create an illusion of self-worth, discipleship, and righteousness. This is the brother who, when you listen to him speak, you relate to him immediately because he has no inclination to exaggerate the truth in the name of testimony-building, but simply, in pure testimony, talks about what he believes and why he believes it. I'm sure that you could add several of your own run-ins with Brother Real in the scriptures.

Indeed, we see him mentioned by Nephi in 2 Nephi 31:12-14, where Nephi describes him as a man who comes to the Lord with real intent, without hypocrisy, and is committed to the end to what he has testified. Nephi is clear that the Lord is seeking for people like Brother Real to be members of His Church and to establish Zion. He is not asking for these things to please Himself, nor is the Lord interested in disciples who only draw unto Him with their lips. The Lord is interested in the hearts of the people.

Bro. Steadfast

The next brother that we are introduced to is Brother Steadfast. You've met him before. He is the brother that people can rely on when the entire world seems to be in commotion; he is the steady house built upon the rock. He appears several times throughout the scriptures, including D&C 122:9, 1 Corinthians 15:58, and Acts 7:55.

D&C 122:9

This scripture comes at the tail end of the Savior teaching Joseph Smith about trials; how bad they can get, why we have them, and that the Lord bore them all. In verse 9, Joseph Smith is told to "hold on thy way, for the priesthood shall remain with thee", that the bounds of his detractors were set and that they would not be able to pass them.

At this moment, I'm reminded of the scene from LOTR: Fellowship where they are in the Mines of Moria, crossing the cracking bridge as the belroc seeks to overtake them. Once all but Gandalf are across the bridge, Gandalf turns around, shouts some words and finally says "you shall not pass!" He strikes his staff into the ground and the bridge breaks under the weight of the belroc, and the belroc falls into the depths. Indeed, Gandalf held to his word and the bounds of the belroc were set such that the rest of the fellowship was protected. (Imagine spiritual wisdom coming from LOTR...)

This verse teaches us twice about Brother Steadfast. Once by the Lord's actions, setting the bounds of Joseph Smith's detractors and remaining immovable at the gate of persecution. Second by Joseph Smith's actions, which were to "hold on" regardless of what happens, knowing by the Lord's promise that nothing would befall him that he could not withstand if he remained built upon the Lord's rock.

1 Cor 15:58

Brother Steadfast makes a brief appearance here when Paul teaches us that one who is steadfast is immovable. Even the Earth moves, and Archimedes said, "find me a lever big enough, and I can move the Earth", yet we are commanded to be immovable under inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 7:55

We finally see Brother Steadfast here in the midst of the stoning of Stephen, where, though he was being stoned (their bounds are set), continuously looked up to Heaven to see his Lord and Savior. He was also steadfast in his love of the people by petitioning the Lord to forgive them for what they were doing.

Daniel 3:17-18

One more that I just thought of, and that is in the midst of Shadrack, Meeshak, and Abednego. Were they not steadfast in saying "But if not"? Regardless of our own lives and our own prosperity, we know what the Lord has commanded and we will not back down from it.

Bro. Hungry

I am out of time. I'll have to write the rest later on....