July 13th, 2006

Serve and Worship

The other day while reading in the New Testament I came across the following passage:

…thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:8)

I was intrigued by the proximity of the words “serve” and “worship” to each other. So, I did a search for the two words in the scripture, and came up with several results that similarly place the two words closely together, thus indicating some sort of relation between the two.

So what is that relation? Does one determine the ability to do the other? In other words, does my level of service indicate how I truly am worshipping? Or does the reverse hold true?

For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? (Mosiah 5:13)

The above verse indicates that in order to know God (and I would argue, to worship Him as well) you must serve Him. This says, to me at least, that serving and worshipping are intertwined. Using the law of association we are able to deduce the following.

  • To worship God, we must serve Him. (Luke 4:8)
  • To serve Him, we must serve our fellow man (Mosiah 2:17)
  • So, to truly worship God, we must serve our fellow man.

Therefore, the truest form of worship of our Heavenly Father is by serving one another. The church is doing a pretty good job, but are we? Perhaps one way to tell is by pondering the following quote by Boyd K. Packer:

“The spirit of service does not come by assignment. It is a feeling that accompanies a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Called to Serve, Ensign, Nov 1997

8 Responses to “Serve and Worship”

  1. the narrator
    July 13, 2006 at 8:37 am #

    The church is doing a pretty good job, but are we?

    as an institution, maybe. but as a people (which is what ‘church’ historically means), definitely not. and the blame largely points to the institution.

    soon before his death, joseph smith taught that “the fundamental principle of the kingdom” was friendship. today that idea has largely been replaced with traditional christian notions of worship – prayer, assertions of faith, scripture reading, church worship, etc.

  2. Connor
    July 13, 2006 at 8:47 am #

    and the blame largely points to the institution.

    So it’s the church’s fault (the organization, not the people) that you don’t pay a generous fast offering, befriend your neighbor, invite people to sacrament meeting, visit the sick and needy, and in all other ways be a good friend?

    Regardless of the institution’s emphasis one way or another, you are still able to be a good friend and serve others. You don’t need a GA to tell you that.

    For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. (D&C 58:26)

  3. the narrator
    July 13, 2006 at 10:22 am #

    No. It’s the GAs fault that all too many Mormons believe it is more important to ritualistically read their scriptures, pray, wear only a certain # of allowed earrings, avoid caffeine, and attend three hours of church services on sundays than it is to help out the beggar they approach on the street.

  4. Connor
    July 13, 2006 at 10:38 am #

    I don’t think the GAs focus on these ritualistic behaviors at all. They become naturally associated with membership in the church, but I think you’d be hardpressed to find a GA quote advocating sitting in all three hours of your meetings or similar activities. The other things you mention, among many others, serve to strengthen our own spirituality. That’s hardly a negative thing.

    On the other hand, I think there are plenty of talks and quotes by GAs in recent years advocating helping out the beggar on the street, lifting up the hands that hang down, and having tender hearts and helping hands.

    Don’t blame the GAs for your own (and other peoples’) lack of initiative, self-direction, and proactivity. We are all capable individuals. The GAs are doing more than their fair share in encouraging, counseling, and setting an example.

  5. the narrator
    July 13, 2006 at 11:06 am #

    Don’t blame the GAs for your own (and other peoples’) lack of initiative, self-direction, and proactivity.

    I don’t blame them for my own. However I do blame them for others’ in the church. The rhetoric of the Church today is far more geared at ‘personal righteousness’ (like the pharisees) than communal righteousness (like jesus and the book of mormon). i am not saying that the GAs haven’t talked about helping out the poor and what not, what i am saying, is that the emphasis is disproportionate compared to the teachings of Jesus, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon.

    For example, the Book of Mormon is full of teachings about the problems of wealth and the gap betweeen the rich and the poor. The rich are constantly condemned in the Book of Mormon. Sexual immorality is only discussed a few times, and each deals with a communal aspect, not as an individual sin (infidelity to wives, prostitution, forsaking the ministry). The Book of Mormon was supposedly written for today, but the Church’s approach is more like much of traditional protestant Christianity than the Book of Mormon (little focus on wealth, a lot of emphasis on sexual immorality based on victorian sexual ethics and ‘personal righteousness).

    The Gospel as taught by Jesus, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon is about community. Its about the plural community (read the sacrament prayers and read about baptisms in the Book of Mormon and rebaptisms in early Mormonism – as in the pioneers all getting baptized again in Utah). Today the Church has taken on a very individualistic gospel (with family twist) that focuses too much on me me me and ‘what do I need to do to get myself into heaven.’ For Joseph Smith, the gospel was about ‘what do we need to do to create heaven.’

  6. Connor
    July 13, 2006 at 11:12 am #

    While I agree with some of the things you say, I think you walk a fine line that inevitably leads to trying to “steady the ark“.

    I think the Gospel can be, and is, in interpreted by different people in different ways. The same holds true for the direction the LDS church takes, the counsel from GAs, and the purpose of modern church programs as well. Several people might have a different perspective of each. You have yours, I have mine. I believe that the church is under inspired leadership of God himself. If God wanted things one differently, or if He wanted something different emphasized in the next general conference, then it will happen.

    Questioning the direction of the church means questioning its leader, the prophet. Questioning the prophet means questioning his divine calling and prophetic inspiriation from God. Questioning that leads to doubt, skepticism, and a weak testimony. I’m not saying you fall in this boat, but again, I think it’s a fine line you walk when questioning the church’s direction and focus.

  7. the narrator
    July 13, 2006 at 11:36 am #

    there is much precedence in the restoration (and scriptures) of members and lesser leaders pressuring and influencing those above them to change polices, practices, and doctrines of the church – with or without extra revelation. examples of the latter include the word of wisdom (emma pushed joseph about tobacco, whitmer and others wanted hot drinks banned in revenge), blacks and the priesthood ( lester bush’s research and a LOT of pressure influenced the change), and the gospel going out to the gentiles (paul laid the pressure on peter). this list could go on for pages.

    as in the quotes i gave you a few days ago, it’s important to question are leaders. one reason is that doing so can strenghten our understanding of their ideas. another reason is that they can be wrong. god doesn’t have them tied to string moving around like puppets. the scriptures show time and time again that the church can falter. look at the old testament, the high priests were going bad all the time. it was the common members who did not hold the priesthood that were charismatically called to correct the faults of the leadership.

  8. Eric Nielson
    July 13, 2006 at 12:40 pm #

    I personnally think the church is doing tremendous things in this area both collectively and individually. Large scale humanitarian aid and home teaching. Amazing things.

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