Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Powers of Heaven

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Powers of Heaven, by David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I enjoy the Priesthood Session of General Conference. I've been taking my eldest son with me for some time, and I love having him sit next to me. I love even more that he actually wants to come, too! While I don't recall if the hymn "Rise Up, O Men of God" was sung, but I had it in my mind as I sat where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing (with a young companion as well).

Elder Bednar reminded that the divine authority of the priesthood is the most distinguishing feature of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He continues:

We make the distinctive declaration that priesthood authority has been conferred by the laying on of hands directly from heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

I've seen a magazine cover in the news recently that uses an image representing this conferral of priesthood authority to satirize the Church and how it uses its finances (article about the satirical approach, link; the article itself, link)

Interestingly, the article that the controversial magazine cover advertises isn't seen as being satirical, although the cover is. This reminds me of a story Elder Bednar told: He recounts how his father wasn't a member of the Church, and that he—a young Elder Bednar—would frequently ask him when he was going to be baptized. The response was always, "I will join the Church when I know it is the right thing to do."

In his teenage years, Elder Bednar asked the question after returning home from church. Instead of the normal response, his father responded with a question:

"David, your church teaches that the priesthood was taken from the earth anciently and has been restored by heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith, right?" I replied that his statement was correct. Then he said, "Here is my question. Each week in priesthood meeting I listen to the bishop and the other priesthood leaders remind, beg, and plead with the men to do their home teaching and to perform their priesthood duties. If your church truly has the restored priesthood of God, why are so many of the men in your church no different about doing their religious duty than the men in my church?" My young mind immediately went completely blank. I had no adequate answer for my dad.

To stretch an analogy to the article and magazine cover, in this group of men, some weren't showing on the outside what they aspired to be on the inside. This is similar to a supposed-legitimate article lessened by an over-the-top satirical cover image.

Is it fair to "judge the Church's claim to divine authority by the shortcomings of [certain] men"? I'm reminded of something Elder Oaks said (link to article)

A person who has had a bad experience with a particular electrical appliance should not forego using the power of electricity.

Funny as Elder Oaks' quote is, I think electrical appliances should still do their best! Elder Bednar might agree (so long as we shift the topic to priesthood holders):

Men who bear God’s holy priesthood should be different from other men. Men who hold the priesthood are not inherently better than other men, but they should act differently.

After listening to Elder Bednar testify of the need for priesthood holders (like me) to be equal partners in the home and examples of righteousness, I dutifully and enthusiastically said, "Amen!" In my notes I drew the following figure of a priesthood holder rising from prayer to fulfill his responsibilities:

NOTE: the picture I drew in my notes had a stick figure, but you get the idea!

Can I "Rise UP!" to meet priesthood responsibilities? (I think I'm already different from other men, I just hope I'm also different in a good priesthood sort of way.)

I can't end this post with the tremendous cliffhanger of Elder Bednar's father continually rejecting his invitation to be baptized! Elder Bednar provided some closure for you (and me):

You may be interested to know that a number of years later, my father was baptized. And at the appropriate times, I had the opportunity to confer upon him the Aaronic and the Melchizedek Priesthoods. One of the great experiences of my life was observing my dad receive the authority and, ultimately, the power of the priesthood.

Rise Up, O Men of God!

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