It happened again last night, and not for the first time: I re-read a familiar section in the Book of Mormon and noticed something that had never arrested my attention before.
In King Benjamin’s classic speech, a major landmark in the Book of Mormon, he tells the people this about the the coming change of leadership from himself to his son:
…if ye shall keep the commandments of my son, or the commandments of God which shall be delivered unto you by him, ye shall prosper in the land… (Mosiah 2:31, emphasis added)
Benjamin wasn’t the only Book of Mormon leader to teach about the reason for faithfully following the prophet; Lehi explained it twice:
And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord. (1 Nephi 3:5, emphasis added)
And it must needs be that the power of God must be with him, even unto his commanding you that ye must obey. But behold, it was not he, but it was the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, which opened his mouth to utterance that he could not shut it. (2 Nephi 1:27, emphasis added)
Nephi’s brothers, you may remember, resented being ordered around, against their natural inclinations, by a bunch of old white men in Salt Lake City…oops, I mean, by their younger brother. (/sarcasm)
The message is clear: we follow God’s prophets not because they happen to be great men, but because they are vehicles chosen by God for communicating His will to us.
There have been some great things written online lately about the importance of being true–as diligently true as possible–to the teachings of church leadership, despite cultural pressure to the contrary. (See, for example, here and here and here and here.)
But perhaps the best such message is one that just went out to the world a few hours ago: President Thomas S. Monson’s address in the Sunday morning session of the April 2013 General Conference.
In his remarks about obedience to the Lord’s prophets, President Monson told a story about his childhood: he and a friend disregarded the wisdom of adults and set fire to a field of weeds, so they wouldn’t have to pull them all by hand. The fire, of course, raged out of control, and their plan literally blew up in their faces. Metaphorically, they got burned by their own pride.
This story wasn’t chosen at random, and the analogy is clear: those who choose to stray from the clear warnings of God’s ordained leaders are no more mature nor successful than little children playing with fire.