Peace,  Scriptures

Paul on Mars’ Hill – A Message to All of Us

This past weekend was the 189th annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Given the warning from our prophet to get our rest and take our vitamins because more revelation and change would be coming to the church, this particular conference was preceded by much speculation about these prophesied new changes.

Some of those who were preparing for conference did so with the anticipation of being astounded yet again by the new and exciting course corrections President Nelson has been making. They counseled with each other, finding humor and excitement in the predictions. Enamored by the prospect of general revelations, I do not know how many also took time to quietly contemplate the things of God and prepare their souls for personal revelations.

The results seemed to be a general discontentedness with the conference as a whole, many walking away with a belief that not much had been said, perhaps that it was even a waste of time. “Just be better, repent, same old stuff. I guess I’ll have to watch my email for the announcements.”

I was going through my own personal trials leading up to this conference and had a different experience. I was determined to feel some connection with the divine, and had no expectation about what that would look like. But even I anticipated at least one new announcement, and often had to recenter myself to make sure I was open to the personal message God had for me.

As I’ve reflected on the difference between the experience of expected general revelation and the experience of desired personal revelation, the words of Jacob came to mind.

Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it… that by the stumbling of the Jews they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation. (Jacob 4:14–15)

I’m afraid too many of us looked beyond the mark, and the subsequent displeasure and criticism may have left a hole in our understanding, a blindness as it were, that we must be careful to repair and repair quickly. The Lord was ready to pour out his revelations upon his children, and many of us may have missed it.

The whole event reminded me of Paul’s message on Mars’ Hill. The Jews were so caught up in debating doctrine and either talking just to talk or looking for someone to say something new and exciting, that they missed the revelation and spirit that could have accompanied Paul’s hopeful message of Christ.

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?

For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.

(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:16–31)

As I’ve rewatched talks from this past conference, this is the same message we received from our apostles. Believe in Christ. Love everyone. Repent. You are a beloved child of God. Get to know him. He is always and immediately there for you. The time is short. Come to Christ, and start now.

Our God reaches for us and calls us to find him. It is time we all learn to stand on our own two divine feet and find power and strength in personal revelation. And it can start now, by rewatching or reading the talks from our last general conference

 

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