The New Guy
A few years ago I struck up a conversation with a new co-worker who had just moved to the area. I asked him about his religious beliefs and if they had found a church in town. He told me that he was raised a Baptist but had sort of drifted around to various non-denominational Christian churches since moving out on his own. He told me that everyone in his family is still very active in the Baptist community. His grandfather, a Baptist minister, has even seen a vision.
Then he went on to tell me about his…wait go back – a vision?!
I asked him to tell me more about the vision, and thankfully, he was more than happy to.
I was walking with Christ in old Jerusalem. Without speaking, we walked down a dusty road and into a temple made of white stone. Imagine my horror when I saw the severed limbs of a man strewn about the beautiful marble floor.
At this point, I started inching my way back to the safety of my cubicle. But then he proceeded to say…
Christ pointed to the dismembered body parts and said “This is my body. This is my church. See how it no longer resembles me and has been broken apart by wicked men.”
The Model Missionary
I think I must have passed out because I don’t remember anything more about the vision after that point. As soon as I could compose myself enough to speak I asked him “Do you know who Joseph Smith is?” He told me that he has heard the name but doesn’t really know anything about him.
“…can I tell you about him?!” By now I’m so excited that I’m pretty much yelling.
Despite my less than dignified invitation, he seemed eager to set up a time to come over and meet with the missionaries.
I’m sorry to say that this was the last time I ever saw this co-worker. Apparently he had been coming in late almost every day. The day I spoke to him also happened to be the day he got fired.
As sad as it is that we weren’t able to have him meet with the missionaries, I trust that he will have another opportunity to hear the gospel at some future time.
The reason for this disgusting/awesome/”oh c’mon!!!” kind of story is because it sparked a new line of thinking for me.
The Body of Christ
Sometimes we hear the church referred to as the “Body of Christ”. Prior to this interaction at work, I have always thought the phrase to mean that we are a body, or group, of believers.
Now I think about it a little more literally.
- His body, much like the early saints, was tortured, persecuted, and cast out
- His body healed the sick and afflicted
- Much like the Prophet Joseph, the law was broken to make His death legal.*
- His body was taken from the earth for a time but rose again (or was restored) in its fullness
- Not unlike many members in the church today, His body was pushed to its absolute limits in the service of others (many of whom would take it for granted or abuse the charity shown to them).
- His body was abandoned, betrayed and made a mockery.
- His body visited many nations and preached the Gospel in every tongue.
I’m not implying that other churches haven’t been persecuted or that other churches don’t preach the gospel around the world. But I am unaware of any other religion which would match the breadth and the depth to which the LDS Church follows this pattern.
This is definitely still a thought in progress. But to me, this is a powerful testament that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must be His church restored again to the earth because of how closely it has followed the pattern of His life.
The stark difference between the literal body of Christ and the church is that, unlike Christ, and because of Christ, no member of the church needs ever walk this path alone.
“Is it enough alone to know that we must follow Him below, while traveling through this vale of tears? No, this extends to holier spheres.”
*The Bonus Material
First, let’s review the events leading up to the crucifixion of the Savior.
By law, charges were not allowed to originate from the Sanhedrin (or the Jewish court), yet most biblical scholars agree that it was the Judges themselves who brought charges of blasphemy against Jesus without any prior testimonies from any external sources.
Because they were either incapable or unwilling to kill Him they changed their charges from blasphemy (a Jewish crime) to treason (a Roman crime) and by so doing, they laid the responsibility to carry out the punishment squarely upon the Romans.
Another interesting note is that a capital sentence under Jewish law would have meant being stoned to death, but capital punishment under Roman law is. Since Christ was crucified and not stoned we can conclude that Jesus was condemned as a violator of Roman law. As we know, Pilate (a Roman governor) interviewed Jesus and found no fault in him. As far as I know, He was never even pronounced guilty before the punishment was carried out.
The first parallel I made regarding the law being broken or changed to make the killing of Mormons legal was the Extermination Order. This was an order issued in 1838 by the Governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs. In the order, he says that “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state…”.
However, I have since found another parallel which I find much more fascinating.
I’m no historian, but as I understand it, Joseph Smith was initially brought to Carthage charged with something akin to disorderly conduct. With some help from some church members, he was able to post bail and was set free. However, before he could leave town, his accusers changed the charge from disorderly conduct to treason, a charge for which you cannot post bail and a charge which, if convicted, carries the death penalty.
The Governor of Illinois (Governor Ford) came to Carthage and met with Joseph. After finding no fault in him, he promised to bring Joseph with him to Nauvoo the next day (presumably to seek a fair trial). But when the morning came, Governor Ford left town without Joseph. Instead, he took most of the neutral troops with him and left the jail in the care of the Carthage Greys (a group who have publicly announced their intent to kill the Prophet and his brother Hyrum).
It seems to me that, like the Governor of Rome, the Governor of Illinois feared the crowd more than he valued truth, justice, innocence, or life itself.