What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Marvin (PA)
After reading some of the story of the Brother of Jared in Sunday School today, the teacher asked if it would be possible for us to have the same type of experiences—namely, an open vision of the Savior and all of His creations. During the seconds of silence that followed, I began to ponder what I termed the “physics of perfection”.
One of the interesting things we learn from this story is the fact that because of his knowledge, the Brother of Jared could not be kept from seeing what was on the other side of the veil. This was not some exception the Lord made nor a gift He was inclined to give to a child He favored. Instead, based on divine law, the very fact that the Brother of Jared had attained such a spiritual state meant that the powers that govern the veil were required to submit to his inquiry and allow him to penetrate its screen.
Assuming this is correct, and knowing that the Lord is no respecter of persons, then the answer to my Sunday School teacher’s question is a resounding yes! In this way, the key to unlocking such a vision for ourselves lies within observing the lives and actions of the few individuals who have attained such an experience, and modeling our belief and behavior accordingly.
The laws upon which blessings and visions are predicated are progressive in nature. As Joseph Smith noted, our quest to gain the knowledge that the Brother of Jared and other prophets have obtained must be preceded by study, inquiry, and persistence:
We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same… It is necessary for men to receive an understanding concerning the laws of the heavenly kingdom, before they are permitted to enter it: we mean the celestial glory… The conditions of God’s kingdom are such, that all who are made partakers of that glory, are under the necessity of learning something respecting it previous to their entering into it. (Joseph Smith via Quoty)
Elder Bednar agrees, clarifying that we cannot realize this goal through any spiritual shortcuts:
We will not attain a state of perfection in this life, but we can and should press forward with faith in Christ along the strait and narrow path and make steady progress toward our eternal destiny. The Lord’s pattern for spiritual development is “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). Small, steady, incremental spiritual improvements are the steps the Lord would have us take. Preparing to walk guiltless before God is one of the primary purposes of mortality and the pursuit of a lifetime; it does not result from sporadic spurts of intense spiritual activity. (David A. Bednar, via Quoty)
Our quest for perfection is not a guessing game, but rather a grand laboratory experiment in a classroom setting, where we must learn and master the various physical laws that govern what we will be doing in our experiment. Our mastery of this knowledge will lead us to higher planes of understanding, ultimately culminating in epiphanies, visions, and blessings that will open the door to our perfection in Christ.