Monday, July 20, 2009

Spiritual Snoozing

President Ezra Taft Benson, said as he spoke to regional representatives of the Church in 1977, while he was president of the Council of the Twelve Apostles:

"Do you know what peace and prosperity can do to a people—It can put them to sleep. The Book of Mormon warned us of how the devil, in the last days, would lead us away carefully down to hell.

"The Lord has on the earth some potential spiritual giants whom He saved for some six thousand years to help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly, and the devil is trying to put them to sleep. The devil knows that he probably won't be too successful in getting them to commit many great and malignant sins of commission. So he puts them into a deep sleep, like Gulliver, while he strands them with little sins of omission. And what good is a sleepy, neutralized, lukewarm giant as a leader?

"We have too many potential spiritual giants who should be more vigorously lifting their homes, the kingdom, and the country. We have many who feel they are good men, but they need to be good for something—stronger patriarchs, courageous missionaries, valiant genealogists and temple workers, dedicated patriots, devoted quorum members. In short, we must be shaken and awakened from a spiritual snooze."

Given a choice (and maybe we were given such a choice long before we came to earth), who wouldn't choose ease and affluence rather than pain and suffering? It sounds so attractive, so generous of the Lord. And all we have to do is keep the commandments, using our affluence to build the kingdom of God and serve others. Why is that so difficult? Because ease and affluence tend toward self-indulgence and self-importance. We can become spiritually flabby and casual in our prayers because we seem to need nothing, indifferent to the needs of others because we do not know how it feels to go without. Not liking to be reminded that others have needs, we remove ourselves from the inner city of life to the "quiet hedonism of suburbia," both temporally and spiritually. We can gorge ourselves with temporal things to the point of spiritual death.

Alma provides the answer to where the spiritual 'smelling salts' can be obtained to bring us back to a conscious state:

"Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; ..." (Alma 5:7).

A love for, and a relationship with the Saviour is what gives us life. As we come closer to Him through studying the scriptures and prayer we will be snoozing no longer.

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