Of Saints, Sabbaths, and Super Bowls

The Good Shepherd by Yongsung Kim
The Good Shepherd by Yongsung Kim

The following is a timely message from my favorite bishop:

In the last two verses of 1 Nephi 5, Nephi restates a case he has been making for several chapters, 

And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children. Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise (1 Nephi 5:21-22).

We use these and other verses to drive home the importance of having and using scriptures in our daily lives. It’s an important lesson. Some people’s scriptures get used about as much as the soap dispenser in the boys’ bathroom at the Little League baseball field. This is a big mistake according to Nephi. 

For just a minute, I want you to go through a thought process and extend your vision up to about the 10,000 ft level and look down on Lehi and his family. God desired to start a righteous nation where He could reveal Himself and enable millions of His children to enter into saving covenants and ordinances. This would have been impossible in Jerusalem. Besides scriptures, what other things would God need to equip his children with in order for them to become a righteous, covenant-making nation? 

Some things on your list might include priesthood, the gift of the Holy Ghost, families, temple ordinances, and prophets.

A Safe Place for Faith

I Would Gather Thee by Liz Lemon Swindle
I Would Gather Thee by Liz Lemon Swindle

One thing that is not talked about much, but is applicable as much in our day as in any previous generation, is an incubator and enough time to strengthen. That incubator normally included an actual, physical space where the nation would not be harassed for some length of time, and so Nephi was given a small plot of ground on the American continent. Even the Lamanites were there to aid in the incubation process. 

For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me [Lamanites], I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also. And if it so be that they rebel against me, they [Lamanites] shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance (1 Nephi 2:23-24).

This was certainly not an isolated incident. Abraham records, 

And it came to pass that I, Abraham, took Sarai to wife, and Nahor, my brother, took Milcah to wife, who was the daughter of Haran. Now the Lord had said unto me: Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee (Abraham 2:2-3).

Abraham was given an incubation place and period where he could be given covenants and ordinances and where he could obtain rights to the priesthood and become a prince of peace, a father of many nations, and a holder of one of the most sacred covenants ever given that most of us here take part in. 

Brigham Young and our more immediate ancestors needed the same thing. On the day Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley, he made what he called an inadvertent remark by saying, “If the people of the United States will let us alone for ten years, we will ask no odds of them.”

In other words, “If we can be left alone for 10 years, there will be no stopping us.” It was ten years to the day that brothers Smoot, Stoddard, and Rockwell found Brigham Young in Big Cottonwood Canyon and informed him that the government had stopped the mail and that 2500 troops were on their way… but it was too late. The 10-year incubation period had given the nation of the Latter-day Saints enough strength through the priesthood, scriptures, temple, family, ordinances, the Holy Ghost, and unmolested space and time that the momentum continues well into our day. 

Some other nations who required this are the Jaredites, the Children of Israel, and more. The formula is perfect. Take one thing away, and you have the Mulekites, who, when they were found, did not know God and had dwindled in unbelief because they had no scriptures. Take away priesthood and you have pharaohs, even though they might be righteous ones. Take away family and you have the end of the Jaredites. All of the elements are important to create a righteous nation. 

We Need a Safe Place Today

We are commanded to create a righteous nation today. We are taught in the temple that our eternal destiny is to become kings and priests, queens and priestesses. We have the ordinances, we have priesthood, families, scriptures, the Holy Ghost, but where is the unmolested space and time? 

To understand our situation, we need to understand today’s assault. Satan’s number one way to get people to alienate themselves from God is to confuse their identity. Instead of being sons and daughters of God, they are persuaded to reduce themselves to other things, most often without knowing that the confusion is even taking place.

For example, they are reduced to producer/consumers by capitalists, laborers by communists, students by schools, voters by politicians. Particularly insidious is the reduction of men, but mostly women, to objects by pornographers; and those who participate in the consumption of pornography into consumers who quickly transition into becoming addicts, thus becoming more valuable to devious dealers. Satan laughs when he is able to see us stripped of our divine identity in favor of addiction identity.  

Related: The Blessing of the Sabbath Day

The Unmolested Space and Time for Us Is the Sabbath

Jesus Mary Martha
Jesus with Mary and Martha, copyright Intellectual Reserve

It is why we have the Sabbath.  One day in seven, we come together in an act of rebellion or peaceful protest. Our rebellion takes the form of refusing to have our identity reduced to something other than the divine by people and groups both pernicious and well-meaning.

It is why we don’t buy and sell or at least shouldn’t. It is why we don’t engage in politics, or at least should not.  It is why we don’t participate in sporting events, or at least shouldn’t.

It is why we don’t buy and sell or at least shouldn’t. It is why we don’t engage in politics, or at least should not.  It is why we don’t participate in sporting events, or at least shouldn’t.

Every Sunday, God does a remarkable thing. He reinstates the divinity in us through a covenantal process and reestablishes our identity as his sons and daughters. We are taught, or at least should be, that we are sons and daughters of God and that we are bought with a price and that we belong to Him. 

One of the ways that he helps us on the other six days of the week is to send us off with a blessing that we might “always remember Him,” because tantamount to our knowing who we are is knowing who He is. 

Surely the spot of the world mentioned in D&C 59:9 is identity confusion, 

And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;

This changes everything. When we understand to Whom we belong, all need for belonging elsewhere dissipates. Paul taught us, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23).

Let that soak in for a minute. The Greek word for servant in this verse is the word doulos which is better translated as “slave.” Restated this way, the scripture reads, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the slaves of men.” The Sabbath day is also a rebellion against our identity as slaves of men. 

One of the greatest treasures of the restoration is the doctrine taught in the holy hymn, “I am a child of God.” Mark Twain has said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.” I would modify this to say, “The two most important days in your life are the day you opted for God’s plan to come to earth and the day you learn who you are and who He is.”

Sin is impossible with your divine identity intact. If time would allow, we could continue this discussion and show the clear implication that once you know yours and God’s identity, it follows that others have the same identity and therefore, your treatment of others around you would be the treatment you would give divine beings. Could you ever possibly be mean again? 

Other Safe Places

I should mention that there are three other space and time incubators where our identity is reestablished, one is the temple, another is mountains, and the other should be our homes. The temple is all about our and God’s eternal identity. In it, we learn of the involvement of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost with us. We learn of our divine nature and destiny. We make covenants that ensure our eternal standing if we are faithful. It is remarkable what happens to people who regularly attend. Their life perspective changes. 

Mountains are another. It is noteworthy that in 1 Nephi alone, Nephi is taken to a “high mountain” three times where he is given critical instruction, including a three-chapter revelation. This type of revelation cannot happen in a connected world where the connection is to anything but Father, Son, and Holy Ghost or their authorized servants, living or dead. It is why we have girls’ camp and Zion’s camp on mountains or in deserts.  

Let me suggest that we change and improve our Sabbath worship. This is a call to become a rebel, to rage against the machine, to stick it to the man, to peacefully protest the taint and tyranny of the spot of the world which, today, is “identity confusion.”

Specifically. You could arrive early to Sacrament meeting, maybe even beat Sister Sanchez. If you understood the miracle that was about to happen, you would prepare the night before, get to Sacrament meeting early, and prepare your mind and heart for the miracle of our communion and reestablishment of the connection with He who has purchased our salvation.

I know how difficult this is for some of you. I watch as many of you struggle with small children whose spirits seem to be so much bigger than their bodies that they are always overflowing in ways that seem boisterous and disruptive to us. But there are things that we can all do to regain our divine identity and peacefully protest no matter the circumstance. 

Please try this: If a particular Sunday activity brings you closer to learning who you are and who He is, it is certainly Sunday-appropriate. If the activity is identity confusing, like buying and selling, sports, political discussions, etc., then we are better off saving it for Monday.

May the Lord bless us to follow the words of God’s living oracles and reinstate His holy day in our lives.

Mauricio Cabanillas grew up in Bakersfield, California, the son of immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. He served a mission in Chile and currently owns a small media company.