Enos wrestles with the Lord and receives a remission of his sins, the records are passed down through the centuries, the people of Zarahemla are discovered, and we are introduced to king Benjamin.
3 Nephi 8:1
Mosiah 23:8, 14
2 Nephi 4:24
3 Nephi 27:1
Words of Mormon 1:18
2 Nephi 25:29
This week’s podcast overlapped with my reading of Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. I think he has a lot to say about the topics discussed here.
The first part of his book talks about Natural Law, being the inherent sense we each have of how people should treat each other. It is easy to call other’s out for wrong behavior, but much harder to apply the same standard to ourselves. When we realize how much we fail to live up to this basic standard of right, we are at the starting gate. Lewis says, “Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need forgiveness.” This is the same point at which Enos begins his journey to God.
I also like what he had to say about justice, which he describes as one of four cardinal virtues (which are recognized by all civilized people whether they are Christian or not). The virtues are Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude. Lewis defined Justice as basic fairness, including honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises, etc. Or in other words, what we might consider holding yourself to the same standards of uprightness that we desire to see in others, adhering to Natural Law. (By the way, Lewis says the additional “theological virtues” recognized by Christians are faith, hope, and charity.)
I think when the Book of Momon prophets wrote about just men, they didn’t really need to add much to the definition. These are the kind of people we want in government in order to avoid the two-tiered justice system that comes with corrupt rulers making laws they don’t obey themselves. It is also the basic level of goodness that any person can strive for that shows they can be trusted to keep their promises and fulfill stewardships faithfully, the only kind of person God is likely to start entrusting with his authority.
Where Nephi seemed to focus on obedience, Enos talks about faith being the key to God’s blessings. Lewis has something to say about faith also. In one sense, faith is belief based on rational thought. It makes sense when we are in a certain frame of mind, or we wouldn’t believe it at all. However, our moods shift. Faith is continuing to maintain course even when our moods are blowing contrary and we no longer feel the rightness of what we used to believe. Enos’ use of faith also incorporates what Lewis calls “hope”, which is to continually look forward to the eternal world.
He also talks about faith as what happens when we realize our nothingness. That our good works will never earn our way to heaven. After trying and failing to live the way we ought to, we eventually realize that we cannot ever be good enough, or pay the debt, so instead of giving up, we put all our trust in Christ, that he will share his reward despite our inability to pay our share. Maybe that is the point that we are finally able to worship God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. Because worship out of recognition for such an amazing, undeserved gift is all we can do.
Verse 7 from Words of Mormon jumped out at me when my daughter was reading last night. “And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.”
Mormon’s context was adding the small plates of Nephi to his abridgment of the Nephite history. However, I thought about it in terms of how God usually works through us too. Sometimes we say things that are just what someone needed to hear, or we follow an impulse which ends up putting us exactly in place to help someone. Mormon recognized that his impulse was for a wise purpose, we might not even know that much. Sometimes we get a chance to see a part of the puzzle, but I think most times not.
Here is an example from my own experience. One evening I was driving home from nowhere particular and saw a sign for a Navajo taco sale. I knew the family, so stopped by and bought one, knowing that it was nowhere near what I would need for my family’s dinner that night. As I was driving, toward home, which is a few minutes out of town on the main road, my foot hit the brake almost before I realized there was a woman walking, holding her shoes over her shoulder. I backed up and asked if she needed a ride. From her location I knew it would be at least 15 miles to the next town. Long story short, she had missed the bus home from the county courthouse 30 miles to the north but had caught a ride as far as the supermarket in our town, which was only halfway home. She had walked from there to the end of town and was still walking, but it was getting later in the evening and there was a long road ahead of her. I offered a ride, and somewhere along the drive remembered the Navajo taco, which she was thankful for.
“And now I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.”
I love finding scriptural gems like this.