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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Who says nobody's perfect?

"Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." (3 Nephi 12:48) So I read this verse this week and begin to think about perfection. Where did we get the idea that "nobody's perfect" Everybody I talk to says that nobody can be perfect in this life. I decided to go to the scriptures. I went to the church website and did a scripture search on the word perfect. I looked at over 250 references that came up on the search and not one of them said perfection in this life in unattainable. In fact they seem to say quite the opposite. As I pondered 3 Nephi 12:48, I wondered why Christ would ask us to do something that was impossible. I think he asked it because it's not impossible. The scriptures say that Job was a perfect man (Job 1:8), So was Noah (Genesis 6:9), as was Seth (D&C 107:43) There are a number of scriptures that tell us to be perfect. (my favorite probably being Moroni 10:32-33) One of the very missions of the church is to "Perfect the Saints", and contrary to what most Priesthood holders think, that does not mean planning a ward outing. I say that half joking...but half serious, as I have sat in on many perfecting the saints disscussion where that is what has happened. I don't think the word perfect was chosen accidentally. And if anybody knows anything about mission statements, they must be attainable. I just wonder if many people are going to get to the other side and be suprised to find that they aren't any more perfect there than they were here. ("for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world"...Alma 34:34) Anyway, just some thoughts...

6 comments:

Katiedid said...

Perfection is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
From Preach My Gospel "The restored gospel enables you to become like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Savior has shown the way. He has set the perfect example, and He commands us to become as He is (see 3 Nephi 27:27). Learn of Him and seek to incorporate His attributes into your life. Through the power of His atonement, you can achieve this goal and lead others to achieve it also... Christlike attributes are gifts from God. They come as you use your agency righteously. Ask your Heavenly Father to bless you with these attributes; you cannot develop them without His help. With a desire to please God, recognize your weaknesses and be willing and anxious to improve."
I remember leaving a college ward FHE activity early incredibly frustrated. We did a color code personality test. Many had not participated in such an activity before. Upon tallying the results, they split us into our colors and began reading the positive and negative attributes of each personality type. Many were using the negative attributes for excuses for previous behaviors and cop-outs for future endeavors. I am hoping that they were all speaking in jest, but I could not help but become frustrated. The girl who administered the test as well as others who had done this before were hung up on defining one another based on these supposed traits. They suggested that these personalities defined who we are and implied that we have no power to change them.
I just wanted to stand up bare my testimony of the purpose of this life and of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I was filled with too much frustration that I didn't think I could bare an effective testimony (accompanied by the Spirit), so I opted to leave the situation.
We are not defined by some personality type. We can change. It would be a waste of this mortal existence if we could not overcome negative traits and weaknesses and perfect ourselves.
We can become perfect by developing Christlike attributes. Listed in Preach My Gospel is the following suggested pattern to follow to develop attributes of our Savior.
"Identify the attribute you wish to develop. Write a definition and description of the attribute. Record questions to answer as you study. List and study thoroughly passages of scripture that teach about the attribute. Record your feelings and impressions. Set goals and make plans to apply the attributes in your life. Pray for the Lord to help you develop the attribute. Evaluate your progress periodically in developing each attribute."

Dallas said...

During church yesterday your question came to my mind. I wanted to post a similar topic, but you beat me to it. You worded it a lot better in your post than I would have in mine, so Kudos to you Robby. As for your question “Where did we get the idea that "nobody's perfect?” We get it from modern Prophets, particularly in the last century. Take for instance Sundays Priesthood lesson, “Since the crucifixion, there have been tens of thousands of men called by the Savior to fill positions of responsibility, not one of whom has been perfect, and yet all are called of the Lord and must be upheld and sustained by those who would be disciples of the Lord.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church Spencer W. Kimball pg. 251)

Here we have a person, who I fully sustain as a prophet of God, but he has said that no one has been perfect. I have heard the rationalization of perfection in 3 Ne. 12:48 to mean that yes, perfection is possible, but not in this life time. I fully 100% disagree with this statement. Perfection while in a mortal probation is possible. You listed many scripture references to site this. Well done.

As far as what is perfection, here are some questions. If you receive a second anointing have you reached perfection or is it not until you obtain all “3 grand orders of priesthood”? (WJS pg. 244) Another question, yet this is more on a personal note for everybody. What do we need to change today, or in our lives, to get closer to “Perfecting the Saints?” Certainly it isn’t an Elders Quorum BBQ.

Robby C said...

Katiedid, I really like how you put it at the end of your comment. Pick an attribute and work on it. Then pick another and another. I think many of us can probably say that we are perfect at a few things. If we can be perfect at a few things, we surely should be able to expand those few things to many things, and in time, all things. I think sometimes people get perfection and sinless all tied up into one, when they are really two different things. I think perfection is all about becoming. Here is a little analogy I like to use. Do you know people who went to college, passed a bunch of tests, and graduate from college and they haven't really become anything? Think of the standard sunday school answer to the question "why are we here?" "To be tested." Passing a test doesn't neccessarily make you become something. Again I'm referring to all those people I know who graduated from college and didn't become anything. I think a better answer to why we are here is to become. Become what? D&C 132:20 will shed some light on that. This life is our comming out party so to speak. Sometimes I wonder if I'm spending too much time trying to pass tests and not really becoming anything.

Robby C said...

Dallas, You're going to have to help me a bit with the three grand orders of the priesthood. From my reading, in The Words of Joseph Smith, Joseph refers to the 3 priesthoods as the priesthood of Aaron, Abraham, and Melchizedeck. How do those relate to the priesthoods we talk about in the church today? After reading the 27August 1843 #21 note on page 303 I'm a bit confused about the difference between the 3rd grand order and 2nd anointing.

Ben said...

Dallas, You're going to have to help me a bit with the three grand orders of the priesthood. From my reading, in The Words of Joseph Smith, Joseph refers to the 3 priesthoods as the priesthood of Aaron, Abraham, and Melchizedeck. How do those relate to the priesthoods we talk about in the church today? After reading the 27August 1843 #21 note on page 303 I'm a bit confused about the difference between the 3rd grand order and 2nd anointing.

I am confused as well. Can I echo robby's query?

Dallas said...

@Ben and Robby

I am working on the difference between 3rd priesthood and second anointing. My problem is my sources all seem to follow a "polygamy never should have been discarded" philosophy. Hopefully I can comment soon on this. Just hang in there.