In Mormon 9:1-6 I appreciated in a way I never have before how belief is linked in this text to action, how true belief is nothing less than obedience to the Law of God, which is, of course, the Pure Love of Christ. So when Moroni speaks to those who do not believe here, he is speaking to those who do not, who will not, love as Christ loves.
In verses 7-19 he then goes into a discussion of miracles. Moroni explicitly links miracles to God's power as creater and redeemer, to God's power as the one who will raise us from death at the last day and bring us to judgment before the bar of Christ. He points out that we are still in the "in-between time," in between the Creation and the Final Judgment, and that because we are in this time, there is still a need for miracles. I cross-referenced this with 1 Corinthians 13: 8-12; where Paul talks about the end of what we think of as miracles -- when we see God face to face. But Moroni insists, we who are reading his words in the latter days are not past the time of miracles yet.
In verses 20-25 he talks about how, since we are not yet past the time when miracles can be performed, miracles are contingent solely upon our faith. And here comes the part where I got a sucker punch from the Spirit:
Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.The inclusivity of this statement is earthshaking. It's profound. Yes, even I am included in that statement. Whoso believeth in Christ. This promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.
So verses 26 and beyond becomes a heart-felt plea to come unto Christ. And these words in particular I found cutting right to my heart:
O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.This speaks so clearly to what I have experienced. So long as I censored myself, so long as I failed to ask God for whatsoever I actually needed, there was no space in which it was possible for the Spirit to work with me. So long as I was trying to be what I thought others thought I was supposed to be, so long as I judged and hated and condemned myself for not living up to someone else's expectations, so long as I refused to allow myself to speak to God from my own deepest needs, wants and desires (note, he says "work out your own salvation"!), so long as I failed to be fully honest with God, I wasn't really exercising faith, was I? I wasn't really believing in the miraculous power of God to meet me exactly where I am, in who I am, at the level of my needs, wants, desires...
Moroni continues in verse 28:
Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.So in other words, when we come to God, when we find ourselves in the presence of God, there is a purification process. There is a process by which we become aware of the wants and desires that we have for things that are transitory, that don't matter in the grand scheme of things. The term "lusts" stands here for all our envy, pride, anger, greed, impatience... Everything that diminishes us by objectifying ourselves and others. God, in other words, invites us to come to him with a full recognition of the fullness of who and what we are as children of God; not as consumers of the trivial.
In my little gay family home evening group last Friday, we talked about Church attendance, and we specifically discussed the issue of partaking of the Sacrament worthily. And this chapter speaks to that as well (Mormon 9:29). Moroni, after making this plea to his latter-day readers to come unto Christ, says, "See that ye are not baptized unworthily; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness." Read in context here, worthiness must be defined as sincerity of desire. The whole thrust of this chapter is toward coming unto Christ, trusting that he will meet us where we are. Worthiness does not equal perfection. It does demand that if we come to Christ, we must come from a place of genuine desire to know him and to find our perfection in him. (J., this is for you!)
I know the truth of this whole discourse, because I have been the witness of miracles. I have participated in miraculous healings. I have seen miraculous things. I have experienced outpourings of the Spirit and seen divine light shining through the ordinary. Now is still the time to come unto Christ...