Jay Hinton is a BCC reader, and recently contributed this post (with its interesting questions) to us.
Certain new callings in the Church tend to be a bit of a spiritual shock to the senses, especially “high profile” ones like RSP, Bishop, EQP, etc. They tend to make us introspective, look again at the big picture, and question our level of spirituality.
Nevertheless, it came as a bit of a shock to me that I had this exact reaction to my recent calling as Ward Clerk. You wouldn’t think the impending duties of the ward bookkeeper/accountant would lead you to a spiritual re-awakening. Perhaps the reason it did was because I found myself flabbergasted by the calling, seeing as though I am the furthest thing you could imagine from an “organized” person (if you could only see the messy garbage dump that is my desk right now). In that sense, I have wondered since being called last Sunday if this isn’t the Lord’s way of playing mind games with me, and spiritual mind games always lead me to the scriptures.
Anyway, in my study over the past several days, I have been drawn to Jacob 5 and the allegory of the olive tree. Simultaneously, I have been drawn to a particular entry by Kevin Barney several weeks ago entitled “Lowered Expectations,” wherein the foibles and imperfections of a heavenly-govern yet mortally-operated Church was discussed.
One comment grabbed my attention toward the end of the discussion:
This is what is wrong with the church. The people with high expectations think that the church should do what is ‘right’. The church, on the other hand, places a higher priority on preserving the institution.
The church has become an end unto itself. Like the branches in the allegory of the olive tree, it has taken strength unto itself, overcoming the root. The result is that the fruit is bad.
Given my study of the olive tree allegory, this comment struck me. What was most odd, though, was that I took an incredibly odd sense of pleasure in the fact that I recognized what the commenter was saying was true. And it got me excited. How odd.
We are nearing the end of days. Whether “nearing” means 10 years or 100 or 500, no one can be sure. But I do see the evidence of what the commenter says in that the Church (see: members, not institution) does take some measure of strength unto itself.
But is that really the case? Is it so much more than in the early days of the Church when separatist groups formed regularly? I don’t know the answer to that question.
But, assuming for a moment that the Church as a people is experiencing a greater level of pride, doesn’t that, in a strange, twisted way, only add another log to the burning fire of scriptural evidence that the Church is true, in that it is fulfilling Zenos’s prophecy?
What do you think? Is the Church more prideful as a whole than in past eras? If so, does that, in a strange way, give you some measure of solace as it does me?