Friday, January 15, 2010

Back to the Basics

As the new year gets underway, changes can occur suddenly. I’ve moved into a new apartment with roommates I love, even though I’d never met them. My classes are new and my work schedule changed. Even church has changed. We are in a new room, and Relief Society is using a new book, Gospel Principles.

When this new book was announced, I heard several responses. Some thought that another book that had been planned was just not ready, so this was to hold us over for a year. Others thought that it was a sign that an influx of new members around the world was imminent. Most of the opinions were negative. “I want the meat of the gospel, not the milk.” The most ardent opinion was expressed by a friend of mine who is a convert. For her, the milk was given at 16 years of age. It was recently learned and taken fully to heart. My opinion however, is that this is a much needed lesson manual. We need to really understand the milk before we can consider the meat.

In my experience, the basic principles of the gospel, those that are vital to salvation and even exaltation, are covered in Primary, and then become part of “The List.” Read your scriptures, pray, go to church, fast. We rattle them off as quick fixes to the problem of the teacher picking on us. Or we are told “don’t just give me the list, think about it.” I feel that this list is much more important than we realize. I personally believe the church is true. I follow the teachings. But I often don’t have a testimony of those teachings. I will readily admit that I don’t read my scriptures every day. Why should I? It’s just part of “The List,” and since I’m doing all the things that require thinking, do I need to worry about that? YES. I do need to read my scriptures every day. I am working hard to make that change in my life. If it’s just a basic though, why do I need it so desperately? I need it because the deeper aspects of the gospel will never be understandable without a basic understanding of the scriptures.

The entire gospel principles book is full of these gems. I was so excited to get my hands on it yesterday in church. The very first lesson was on the reality of God, who He is, that He loves me. Last summer, I received a stunning witness that this is true. It changed my perspective on the gospel. I no longer live it because my parents taught me to and I believe them. I live the gospel because I know that my Heavenly Father wants me to, so that I can come home to Him. This change happened when I was 19 years old. Young women of 14 and 15 years old are treated as if they should have this type of understanding of the gospel. I believe that many of them don’t have that witness. I didn’t. And I don’t think that’s bad, or unnatural. We are taught well and act on the teachings of our parents. Members raised in the church may not have a strong testimony of these basics.

As we study the gospel principles this year, I pray to receive a witness from the spirit of their truthfulness. If we approach this study with excitement and dedication, I believe all members around the world will find something new that will strengthen their testimony and possibly change their life. We cannot contemplate the deepest aspects of the gospel without first knowing the basics. It would be like telling a 5th grader to solve a quadratic equation. Someday that 5th grader will learn and understand quadratic equations. But first we need to teach them how to multiply and divide whole numbers.

I for one am very excited about the upcoming year. Honestly, I have never been so excited for a church manual. I know that if I give my fullest to the lessons, I will learn and grow this year as I come to understand basic principles of the gospel I follow.

1 comment:

  1. Courageous insights. I believe the more focus we give to Christ, the clearer the insights become. I hope your journey finds that answer for you. It sounds like it is.


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