Will Ye Also Go Away
No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon (3 Nephi 13:24, Matthew 6:24).After the great miracle of Jesus wherein the five thousand were fed by five loaves of bread and five fishes, the Savior walked across the Sea of Galilee and joined his disciples in their boat. The next day those that were fed searched for Jesus. Their desire was not for the things of the spirit, but for more of the food that the Savior provided. It was in this context that the Savior gave his bread of life sermon found in John chapter 6. During this sermon Jesus used the analogy of the bread to declare himself without question as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
The response of those that heard was not favorable. In verse 66 it reads"From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."
This must have been a sad moment for the Savior to see so many unwilling to accept the truth. He then turned his attention to his apostles and asked “Will ye also go away?” Peter responded saying “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
How easy it must have been for those who left to murmur and justify their way out of their discipleship at that moment. Yet in so doing,they lost many blessings.
These days that question, "will ye also go away" as asked by the Savior, comes up daily. In a recent conference, Elder W. Craig Zwick, of the Seventy told the story of a teenager named Ethan:
Ethan, approached his mother with a weighty question. Like most teenagers, Ethan wants to be independent, self-sufficient, and surrounded by good friends. He is trying to make good choices on his own. He is exceedingly valiant, works hard on his grades, and studies the scriptures daily. Like all young people, Ethan faces tremendous temptations. It comes in the halls of his school, on the Internet, in the movies and music. It can be heard in bad language and seen in provocative clothing. That which is wrong is often made to look right. Anxiety and fear of rejection are common among teenagers. Peer pressure is often overpowering. Ethan was feeling bombarded with opposing values.
This is the question he asked his mother: "Mom, do I need to lower my standards to keep my friends?"
His Mother answered with a resounding no (Conference Report, April 2008).The experience of Ethan is similar to the experiences many teenagers have to face each day. Each day they face the same question the Savior asked, will ye also go away? They are not the only Saints facing this question. Adults also face this question repeatedly. As Latter-Day Saints we are all called to stand against the blowing winds of the philosophies of men.
The Lord knew this time was coming. He knew people would invent their own ideas and use them to justify their behaviors. He knew they would advocate them to others. He knew, they would even try to pass them off as a higher morality. He also knew the sorrow they would bring. Because he knew this, he prepared a way for us to stay strong during this time. In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord describes the people of this dispensation:
15 For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
16 They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god…
17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments (D&C 1:15-17).There is no doubt that we live in a time when people walk in their own way, seeking only the next new stimulus. The need for a prophet in our day is only too obvious. We live in a world similar to Athens during the ministry of Paul. In the book of Acts chapter 17, the Athenians are described:
For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing (Acts 17:21)These days some new thing shows up almost daily. They come at us like an unending barrage of hurricanes. Each time their worldly winds brings ideas designed to erode away at our values, our faith, and our family. Each time, those who follow those changing winds condemn those who hold fast to the iron rod. Sadly, even in the church, there are those who spend their time chasing after the debris each new wind blows in. Furthermore, some assert without cause or reason that they are newly enlightened; that they are in the right and that it is Lord’s church that has gone astray.
In commenting on this, Elder Neil a Maxwell asked this question:
Why are a few members…so eager to hear some new doubt or criticism? Just as some weak members slip across a state line to gamble, a few go out of their way to have their doubts titillated. Instead of nourishing their faith, they are gambling “offshore” with their fragile faith. To the question “Will ye also go away?” these few would reply, “Oh, no, we merely want a weekend pass in order to go to a casino for critics or a clubhouse for cloakholders.” Such easily diverted members are not disciples but fair-weather followers. (Maxwell, Answer Me, Ensign November 1988)Lord gave us a better way. We have the more sure word of prophecy. We have been blessed with leaders who have Priesthood power and revelation so that we need do not have to suffer from spiritual misdirection. This is the way it has always been. In Ephesians we are told:
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:11-12,14).With each storm of worldly change, we have a safe harbor, a strong sail, and a worthy rudder. Like those of ancient times, we can take comfort in the guiding hand of prophets, apostles, and the rest of the leaders which collectively make up the Lord's church.
Consider the Word of Wisdom. In this revelation, the Lord made it clear that the reason for this doctrine was to protect against the evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days (D&C 89:4). Verse 4 describes the term conspiring. This term is especially revealing. Over 150 years after that revelation, various states filed a class action suit against the tobacco companies. Included in this action was the charge of conspiracy; that they knowingly and willingly conspired to put addictive chemicals in the cigarettes for the purpose of profit. Tobacco claims the lives of nearly 5 million people worldwide annually. How much easier it would be if people would but follow the revelation of the Lord.
We cannot wait and watch for so-called vanguard and cutting edge ideas bear bitter fruit. We need to take our stand now. By the time society realizes that it is wrong, it often is too late. How many will die from substance addictions wishing they had the wisdom to not start. How many broken homes will destroy the foundation of society before they realize the value of the family. Is is any different in our time than it was in Noah's? Noah’s people finally became convinced as the waters took them away. Similarly, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah must have sought that prophetic umbrella during their final hailstorm. We cannot wait to take our stand. Just as Joshua asked his people to choose, we must choose now to whom we follow.
In 2003 Elder Packer at BYU. He spoke against many of the evils and influences of the world. He spoke against immorality, pornography, alcohol use and other things. Then near the end of the talk he made a rather disturbing comment:
We are about the only ones left in the world who hold to these standards. When we look around, we cannot find any organization that is holding to the standards. We do not like to talk about other churches, but we are going to stand alone. If so there we will stand. (Boyd K. Packer, The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character, BYU Speeches, Feb. 2, 2003).It can be difficult to be the only group of people standing for something and to be criticized, jeered, mocked, even vilified for standards others have abandoned. Lehi’s vision of the pride of the world was a Great and Spacious building for a reason. It's meaning resonates more these days than ever before. In those verses comes one of the most powerful statements about keeping your faith:
33 And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.
Despite the large numbers of critical people, those who held to the rod enjoyed the fruit of the tree; a fruit whose sole purpose is to make one happy. This is the example we must follow. Elder Packer has recently emphasized this need to not heed them by stating:
34 These are the words of my father: For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.
"However out of step we may seem, however much the standards are belittled, however much others yield, we will not yield, we cannot yield."
Each day we are asked by the Savior “Will ye also go away?” Each day must be able to answer humbly and with the same faith that Peter had, “Where shall we go Lord, thou hast the words of Eternal life.” Savior's way is the way.
We are talking about being steadfast and immovable. These words can seem daunting. They speak of a strength that perhaps many do not feel they possess. My experience has taught me clearly that it is not my strength that accomplishes anything for the Lord. Rather it is in the Lord that any strength is found. When we talk of being steadfast and immovable, we are not talking about being strong willed and stubborn. We are talking about being meek and humble.
Look at the faithful Nephites in Alma chapter 1:
22 Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.
23 Now this was in the *second year of the reign of Alma, and it was a cause of much affliction to the church; yea, it was the cause of much trial with the church.
24 For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.
25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.Those that were steadfast and immovable were not a stiff-necked people, but a people willing to submit themselves to whatsoever things the Lord saw fit to inflict upon them. Even as a child submits to his father (Mosiah 3:19). Our time is like the time described in these passages. Their faith needs to be our faith.
I once heard a bishop speak from the pulpit about those who have one foot in the church and one foot in the world. He spoke a phrase which I believe came from God. It pierced me that day to the extent that I have never forgotten it. He said "we cannot have one foot in the church and one foot in the world and expect salvation for our families". To those seek to walk both paths, we as a body of saints plead, come into the fold of the church, do as Elder McConckie once advocated. “Stay in the mainstream of the church. This is the Lord’s church.” He will not allow it to go astray.
I hope, in spite of all my weaknesses, that is where I remain.