Purpose in Christ (Mormon 5:16-18)

The Nephites had rebelled from God, from His blessings, and from the knowledge and covenants that they had received from Him.

We read:

“For behold, the Spirit of the Lord hath already ceased to strive with their fathers; and they are without Christ and God in the world; and they are driven about as chaff before the wind.

They were once a delightsome people, and they had Christ for their shepherd; yea, they were led even by God the Father.” – Mormon 5:16-17

The Nephites no longer had the spirit with them. They were without God, they were without Christ – and what was the result: a meaningless life.

Once, they were led. Once, they had direction, and now they were just blowing in the wind.

I know that this can sound like some kind of romantic idea – no rules, no direction, no religion, nothing forcing us to go somewhere. We have songs about this concept of “nothingness.” And I think that there are times when we have intellectualized ourselves into believing that this lack of purpose is somehow superior than some other kind of life.

I think it’s depressing! Being driven about as chaff before wind? Personally, I find no joy or hope in it, and I think that’s because there is no purpose in such a modality of living.

The truth is, purpose and meaning is what will bring us joy – even in the most difficult of circumstances. I can’t help but think of Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Understanding his meaning and purpose in life gave him the tenacity he would need to endure three years in concentration camps. Believing in “nothing” will not give you the strength to endure the trials and adversities we face in our lives.

In fact, Frankl has said something very interesting about freedom:

“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.” – Viktor Frankl

Blowing about in the wind as chaff sounds like freedom, in a way. But it’s not the “whole thing.” That’s not the real freedom that God offers. Freedom isn’t only the “negative” aspect. It doesn’t only mean that we have the freedom to choose or be. It also means that we are free from (fill in the blank). We are free from – sorrow, fear, addiction, etc. This kind of freedom only comes through discipline, or as Frankl describes it responsibleness..

Our freedom can degenerate into arbitrariness (doesn’t that sound like chaff blowing in the wind) unless we will have discipline!

Follow the Good shepherd. Then our lives have meaning. Then our lives have purpose. Then, our lives have joy.

Humility as the Answer to Race Relations and Violence (Mosiah 21:6-15)

In Mosiah 21, the people of Limhi (Nephites) are living under Lamanite rule – according to an arrangement that had been made between the king of the Lamanites and Limhi.

In case you are not familiar, the people of Limhi are Nephites. They are a different race than the Lamanites. The Nephites and Lamanites are all descendents from a common family – the Nephites, but over the years, they separated and they also changed physically. Their skin colors are different. They also often fought with each other – a rivalry started between the brothers (Nephi and Laman) hundreds of years before.

So – the people of Limhi are living subject to Lamanite rule. And racism grows. The Lamanites are annoyed with the people of Limhi, but because of the arrangement made between kings, they can’t kill the Nephites. So, they oppress the Nephites.

This oppression is described as follows:

“Now they durst not slay them, because of the oath which their king had made unto Limhi; but they would smite them on their cheeks, and exercise authority over them; and began to put heavy burdens upon their backs, and drive them as they would a dumb ass—” – Mosiah 21:3

The people of Limhi are getting frustrated with this oppression, and they convince their king that they need to retaliate. So, he agrees.

The Lamanites beat the people of Limhi, did drive them back, and kill many.

This loss results in worse race relations and a great sorrow and mourning among the people of Limhi. The crying of the people grows to a fever pitch – and the people of Limhi decided that they needed to go again to the Lamanites and fight.

The Lamanites, however, beat the people of Limhi again, did drive them back, and kill many.

This next loss results in even worse racer relations, and sorrow and mourning among the people of Limhi. Again, they complain until they approach the king and go up against the Lamanites once again.

And the Lamanites, beat the people of Limhi, did drive them back, and kill many.

This is insane.

This is such a sad and terrible time in the history of both the Lamanites and the People of Limhi. Mourning, anger, and frustration motivate these people. They are proud and wicked. They don’t turn to the Lord. Instead, they try to fight for themselves, and their misery only increases.

It sounds sadly familiar.

Recently, we have seen many divisions in our country. Racial tension and aggression seems to be multiplying. People are rioting and too many people are dying. The solution that seems to prevail is more retaliation, more fighting, and more mourning and anguish.

How do we stop this? Well, the same way that the People of Limhi did. They humbled themselves. In Mosiah, we read:

“And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.

And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage.” – Mosiah 21:14-15

Finally, the Lord heard their cries, and he softened the hearts of the Lamanites. Though the people of Limhi weren’t yet delivered out of bondage, they were prospered by degrees. Though they were still subject to the Lamanites, they were not dying anymore. They weren’t wailing and howling at the staggering losses of life because they weren’t experiencing these losses anymore.

This resonates with me now. My heart is heavy. Police have killed people. People have killed police. We seem to want to sit and point fingers at one another – while the killing, animosity, and mourning continues. It makes no sense.

These problems we experience today are the results of a wicked and perverse generation. On both sides. But we don’t have to be. We don’t have to embrace sin. We don’t have to be deceived.

Instead, we can learn a lesson from the People of Limhi – who were in bondage. Maybe today we could say, “they had every right to fight.” But what good did that fighting do? It just hurt them even more. We can learn that the most effective way to “fight” for our liberty and for peace is through humility. It is when we humble ourselves to God that we will receive His blessings and then ultimately achieve peace and freedom.