We are in Salt Lake supervising the activities of two grandkids, age 11 & 4. We are having a ball. Yesterday we went to their ward to church, and I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw and participated in there. A young couple and their son, recently moved into the ward, spoke in sacrament meeting. The talks were all very well prepared and well presented. The son, age 12, was articulate and presented his message with confidence. I asked his mom if he wrote his own talk. She said that he did, and that he typed it himself, which took him 3 hours!
The talks were on Sacrifice and Consecration. Sacrifice, I think I have a good grip on. Sometimes it is referred to as a sort of investment scheme with God. We do something that is an indication of our commitment, like giving up something that is important to us, and God blesses us with a big return on our investment. That never made sense to me, though, because sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, but those blessings can’t be part of our lives if we do it as an investment. Then one Sunday in the gospel doctrine class I asked a question about that (we were living at Dugway Utah at the time) and one of the salty old ladies of the ward simply defined sacrifice as “putting God first.” Suddenly it all made sense. It is not about an investment, it is putting ourselves in line with God’s will. When we do it because we love him, then that is enough reward. We will be blessed abundantly, but it will be on God’s terms, not ours. Sacrifice is closely aligned with obedience and is a demonstration of love.
The idea of consecration has always been centered on the Law of Consecration, a community effort that has had various levels of success in the history of human interaction with God, sometimes compared or identified as the United Order. It has been about the blessings of God coming to people who are willing to make and keep that law. Often the discussion seems to focus on the idea that we are not now expected to live the Law of Consecration, but that we should be prepared to willingly obey and participate when that day comes. For now, we live the Law of Tithing, even though we promise to live the Law of Consecration. That has not sat well with me.
What I learned from impressions of The Holy Ghost into my mind, triggered by what the well-prepared speaker was saying, is that we are not only expected to live that law in some future situation, we are expected to live it fully, now. The reality of the matter is that if we are not living it 100% now, we will be missing out on the blessings that God promises to the faithful. Take the rich young ruler who came to Jesus to ask what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. He was already being obedient to all the law that he had been given. He was a good person, living a God-centered life. Jesus told him that he lacked one thing—his wealth was getting between him and God. Jesus told him to go and sell all that he had and “come follow me.” The young man went away sorrowfully, for he had much wealth. He was fully living the Law of Obedience, but he lacked only one thing. We learn, sadly, that 99% is not enough. The account of Ananias and Saphira in Acts is a similar sad story. They were committed to live the Gospel, but 99% was not enough.
So the Law of Consecration is fully in effect now, and we are expected to live it. That law is not an institutional law, it is a personal law. The blessings are given on a personal basis, not an institutional one. Our individual salvation depends on our individual obedience to the Law. And don’t confuse salvation with exaltation. Most of the time they are the same thing. The work and glory of God (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost) is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Even there, 99% is not enough.
Have a good week.