So my first week in Victorville has been pretty crazy! Elder Jones is one crazy guy. Apparently he was ranked 7th in the nation for high school wrestling. At peak performance the kid was 5"8, 200 pounds and about 5% body fat. The dude's a beast. I'm pretty sure he wrestles alligators in his spare time.
But him and I (Although total opposites) have become super good friends! He's a very VERY loving individual and I've learned a lot from him.
The desert is very different from the valley, but the weather is gorgeous! It's felt so cool and nice every day and biking has been a real joy! We work super hard and laugh super hard so it's been a fun week.
(THIS part is super long and boring, so if you don't want to read it skip down to "Because at the end of the day")I've been thinking a lot about obedience, and my thoughts may be super confusing so I apologize if I don't make any sense. So we're promised in D&C that every blessing we receive is received by obedience to whatever law or commandment it is connected to. Another missionary legend coined the phrase that "Application of correct principles produces desired results." While it seems simple, I've been thinking a lot about that.
Missionaries out here have categorized missionaries into to categories that I think we categorize ourselves into as members of the church. "Letter of the law" missionaries and "Spirit of the Law" missionaries. This is of course a reference to Christ talking to the pharisees, informing them that Spirit of the Law was better. Letter of the law missionaries are kind of put in a bad light because they see the rules as stiff (Because there are some rules in the white handbook that are a little more strict and particular) while Spirit of the Law missionaries state that they try to understand the principles and make decisions based off what feels right.
This bothered me. Because I didn't understand why there should be a difference, or why we should have to choose between Letter or spirit of the law.
So drawing it back to the original statements, we can understand that: Application of principles=Blessings (Or results) and it isn't until we Apply PROPER principles that we achieve the DESIRED results.
Now, we cannot believe that understanding principles is enough to achieve the blessings. Just like we cannot think that knowing a trail very well because of amps and pictures we've seen is the same as actually walking the trail. So principles must be put to practice. So: Practices based on Principles lead to Promises from our Heavenly Father (because he is bound when we do what he says, but when we don't he is not bound). This equation (Principle => Practice = Promised blessings) is doctrine. So for example, the doctrine of Christ: Principle= following him and being born again. Practice= Acting in Faith, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Promised Blessings= returning to live with our Father in Heaven.
So, this was basically what had to go through my head to wrap my head around this whole "obedience" thing. So how does it apply?
As a member of the church I get too caught up in the particulars without understanding the principle. And sometimes, I get caught up in trying to understand the principle without actually paying heed to the practice. I usually chose whichever one would be most convenient at the time.
But, as we understand and apply principles, we receive blessings. But when we understand and apply PROPER principles, we achieve the results we desire. These "results" come in many forms. Comfort. piece, temporal blessings, blessings on those around us, and most importantly having the spirit to be with us.
We cannot say that we "Understand the rules so we know how to break them" in the gospel. Because if we truly understand the principle, we understand why the practice (our commandment, or guideline from any priesthood holder with authority over us) is in place. And if we don't understand the connection, that's fine. We're not commanded to understand the connection between the Principle and the Practice. We're merely asked to understand the Principle, apply the Principle through whatever practice has been given us by Priesthood Authority and to enjoy the results, blessings, whatever you want to call it. ('Adam fell that men might be, men are that the might have joy' sort of thing)
So I've had a lot of fun taking commandments I don't always understand or commandments that are a little more vague with how to practice them and breaking them down through this model.
Because at the end of the day, what we do is a sign to our Heavenly Father of how much we love him and how much we want his spirit to be with us. The more we strive to be like Christ, the more we are guided by the spirit and the closer we become to becoming one with the Father. With that, we will enjoy more blessings of spiritual happiness and joy that can only come through obedience and submission to the will of the father. Let us take on an attitude of "Not my will, but thine" in all we do.
I love you all! I brag about my family and friends all the time, and can't wait to see you all again! (scratch that, I can wait... but you know what I mean)
Church is true!