Which Way Do You Face?
When King Benjamin called the people of Zarahemla to come to the temple to hear his final words, the people came and pitched their tents facing towards the temple (Mosiah 2:6). They did that so they could remain in their tents and still see and hear the prophet speak to them. Elder Robbins spoke of an experience he had when first called as a member of the Seventy. He said Elder Packer asked him which way do you face? Then Elder Packer said:
“A Seventy,” he continued, “does not represent the people to the prophet but the prophet to the people. Never forget which way you face!” (“Which Way Do You Face”, Elder Lynn G. Robbins, General Conference, October 2014).
This is a question that we need to ask ourselves often. Are we facing the same direction that the prophet is facing? Are we facing the temple? In other words are our thoughts and actions in line with the teachings of the prophets and the Gospel of Jesus Christ or are we aliening with the philosophies of men and the world? Elder Robbins continues:
“Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). It is forgetting which way we face. And yet, we have all made that mistake because of the fear of men. In Isaiah the Lord warns us, “Fear ye not the reproach of men” (Isaiah 51:7; see also 2 Nephi 8:7). In Lehi’s dream, this fear was triggered by the finger of scorn pointed from the great and spacious building, causing many to forget which way they faced and to leave the tree “ashamed” (see 1 Nephi 8:25–28).
“This peer pressure tries to change a person’s attitudes, if not behavior, by making one feel guilty for giving offense. We seek respectful coexistence with those who point fingers, but when this fear of men tempts us to condone sin, it becomes a “snare” according to the book of Proverbs (see Proverbs 29:25). The snare may be cleverly baited to appeal to our compassionate side to tolerate or even approve of something that has been condemned by God. For the weak of faith, it can be a major stumbling block.” (“Which Way Do You Face”, Elder Lynn G. Robbins, General Conference, October 2014).
If the teachings of men and the world are in contrast to the commandments of God as is often the case and we agree with those teachings, we find ourselves facing away from God and his prophets and we lose the spirit of the Holy Ghost. This is a precarious position to be in and leads to apostasy. If we do not repent and turn again to God and his commandments and teachings, we risk losing the spirit completely and will be cut off from the presence of God and lose the blessings that come from obedience. Elder Robbins said:
“When people try to save face with men, they can unwittingly lose face with God. Thinking one can please God and at the same time condone the disobedience of men isn’t neutrality but duplicity, or being two-faced or trying to “serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24; 3 Nephi 13:24).
“While it certainly takes courage to face perils, the true badge of courage is overcoming the fear of men…
“Courage is not just one of the cardinal virtues, but as C. S. Lewis observed: “Courage is … the form of every virtue at the testing point. … Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”1 King Herod was sorrowful at the request to behead John the Baptist but wanted to please “them which sat with him at meat” (Matthew 14:9). King Noah was ready to free Abinadi until peer pressure from his wicked priests caused him to waver (see Mosiah 17:11–12). King Saul disobeyed the word of the Lord by keeping the spoils of war because he “feared the people, and obeyed their voice” (1 Samuel 15:24). To appease rebellious Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, Aaron crafted a golden calf, forgetting which way he faced (see Exodus 32).” (“Which Way Do You Face”, Elder Lynn G. Robbins, General Conference, October 2014).
The Apostle Paul set the example when he said: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). We must be willing to go against the traditions of men and their teachings when they oppose those of God. Although we have our agency, if we are to remain in favor with God we need to choose his standards and commandments and not those of the world. Elder Christofferson recently said:
“God intends that His children should act according to the moral agency He has given them, “that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.” It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life’s drama. God will not live our lives for us nor control us as if we were His puppets, as Lucifer once proposed to do. Nor will His prophets accept the role of “puppet master” in God’s place. Brigham Young stated: “I do not wish any Latter Day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ,—the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves.” (“Free Forever, To Act For Themselves”, D. Todd Christofferson, General Conference, October 2014)
While God expects us to follow him and his prophets, we are not to do it blindly. As Elder Christofferson quoted Brigham Young above, we are found out the truth of what the scriptures and the prophets are teaching for ourselves. The way we do that is to test it by obeying the commandments and teachings and then pray to ask God if it is right. The scriptures teach that if we do this we will know if the principle is true or not.
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10: 3-5)
While the world and the philosophies of men become more like the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, we must have the courage to stand firm in keeping the commandments of God. We must have the faith to face towards God and His prophets and other leaders that are called of God to lead His Church. If we this we will never be left alone we will have his spirit to always be with us and will always be rooted in the path that leads back to our Heavenly Father and his Kingdom.
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