Wednesday, May 13, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: Learning the Lessons of the Past

Covering a topic that has been rehashed so many times before, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles makes the topic ring with new vitality as he reminds us in his conference address that we live in perilous times. He quotes the aphorism, ¨Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

He refers to a number of examples of cyclical behavior, from scriptural accounts in particular. There is a consistent theme of blessing and prosperity, then reoccurring periods of apostasy and spiritual darkness, followed by repentance and restoration of the Lord´s grace and blessings.

Our Heavenly Father loves all of His children, and He wants them all to have the blessings of the gospel in their lives. Spiritual light is not lost because God turns His back on His children. Rather, spiritual darkness results when His children turn their collective backs on Him. It is a natural consequence of bad choices made by individuals, communities, countries, and entire civilizations. This has been proven again and again throughout the course of time.

One of the most important lessons we learn from this is that actions do have consequences, for good or bad, individually and collectively. We learn to avoid the mistakes of the past by studying the lessons of history and culture. Herein lies the accumulated wisdom of past generations. Through their learning we can leverage and avoid some of the pitfalls of these perilous times.

We live in an era when the boundaries of good taste and public decency are being pushed to the point where there are no boundaries at all. The commandments of God have taken a beating in the vacillating marketplace of ideas that absolutely rejects the notion of right and wrong. Certain factions of society seem generally mistrustful of anyone who chooses to live according to religious belief. And when people of faith attempt to warn others of the possible consequences of their sinful choices, they are scoffed at and ridiculed, and their most sacred rites and cherished values are publicly mocked.

Elder Ballard counsels for each of us to strive to gain a faith and testimony of our own. His advice is that testimony is built the same way it has always been, and there are no technological shortcuts, despite all the gadgets that have proliferated these days.

And how do you get such a testimony? Well, there’s no new technology for that, nor will there ever be. You cannot do a Google search to gain a testimony. You can’t text message faith. You gain a vibrant, life-changing testimony today the same way it has always been done. The process hasn’t been changed. It comes through desire, study, prayer, obedience, and service. That is why the teachings of prophets and apostles, past and present, are as relevant to your life today as they ever have been.

No comments: