A Joyful Society (4 Nephi 1:15-17)

After Christ’s Visit to the Americas, the people were changed. They covenanted with Him. They kept their covenants and the commandments. And what followed is nothing short of amazing.

” And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.

And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.” – 4 Nephi 1:15-18

This society – it was heaven on earth. It was Zion.

How was it possible? The love of God which dwelled in the hearts of the people.

So, I know that I could write at least 10 pages on this subject – the love of God that dwells in the hearts of people. For now, though, just understand that this isn’t some kind of amalgam concept of “love” that we seem to have now. They had the very specific love of God – the pure love of Christ – the love what doesn’t fail. This love comes as a result of discipline and covenant keeping.

Through covenant keeping and discipline, we develop God-like love, or charity, and then we can experience the following:

  • joy in the success of others – (lack of envy)
  • Peace – (no strife)
  • Virtue – (no whoredoms)
  • Sanctity of Life and safety – (no murder)
  • Healthy Family life – (no manner of lasciviousness)
  • Happiness
  • Safe Property – (No robbers)
  • Safe Life – (No murderers)
  • A United Class – (No Racism or class)
  • Blessings
  • Heir to the Kingdom of God
  • Prosperity
  • The Abundant Life

Often, I think that we have a backward approach on this. We think that if we will just work at joy, peace, safety then we’ll have it. Or we think we make laws to prevent murder, robbery, and rape, and then experience the kind of society described in 4 Nephi. We think that we can “eradicate” class through governmental control.

We often try to approach this ideal society backwards – looking at the corollaries, rather than the cause.

The way to be the kind of society like these Nephites after Christ’s visit is through humbly covenanting with God. It is through Righteousness and devotion to the commandments that will enable us to become the kind of people who have hearts filled with the love of God.

I find this message to be especially hopeful. It’s possible! Christ will make us perfect. He will complete us and enable us to live joy – even while in this mortal state. If we will just turn to Him. He will teach us how it is possible, and empower us by filling our hearts with His love.

Don’t Blame Religion (Alma 4:8-9)

Soon, if you read this blog enough, I suppose you’ll find some of my pet peeves. I’ll let you in on one, right now. It’s actually kind of a dual pet-peeve.

Pet Peeves

  1. When people blame evil on “religion”
  2. When supposedly religious people, through their hypocritical actions, give others the excuse to do so.

Caveat

No one is perfect. There is a difference between imperfection and hypocrisy. I hope that the rest of this blog post will reflect that difference.

Corruption of Religion

In Alma 4, we learn about the conditions of the church (religion) in Zarahemla:

“For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.

And thus, in this eighth year of the reign of the judges, there began to be great contentions among the people of the church; yea, there were envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride, even to exceed the pride of those who did not belong to the church of God.” – Alma 4:8-9

Here is a description of some of the people in the church at the time:

  • Lifted up in pride
  • set their heart upon riches and the vain things of the world
  • scornful to others
  • persecuted those who didn’t believe as they did
  • contentious
  • envious
  • strife
  • malice

This is not the description of a joyful people! Therefore, what followed were not joyful circumstances. Additionally, the bad behavior of the supposed religious resulted in more problems. We read:

“And thus ended the eighth year of the reign of the judges; and the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.” – Alma 4:10

The people who had covenanted to be Christ’s people instead corrupted His gospel.

I can see why the Savior had such a problem with people who were hypocrites. Just because they called themselves religious didn’t make them so. Just because they called themselves covenant people, didn’t qualify them for the covenants that they were breaking.

What ensues is a contentious, harmful environment. And those who are being hurt blame the church. Of course, the church isn’t the problem. The problem comes from the corruption of the people. This is especially sad because the true gospel is should bring healing balm, peace, and love to society – exactly what the society during Alma’s time needed.

I think that this is needed now, too. There are so many people who do wickedly under the guise of their own religion. As a believer of Christ, it really hurts me. This isn’t why Christ suffered and died. He came to bring peace, not to justify and promote pride and persecution. When we commit to leading Christlike lives, we can help to change the sad perception that religion is a source of pain into it being the source of healing and peace.