With Jeff’s interesting introduction to the OT course of study, I’m sure many of you have peeked at the first OT lesson for the new year. Correlation really likes to start the year off with the Plan of Salvation, and OT year really lends itself to this if you start with the book of Moses. I hardly ever use the LAME attention-grabber suggestions in the manual, and the Plan of Salvation rather bores me after so many times through. But I was actually intrigued by the suggestion in this lesson:
Select two class members and hand them a bag that contains a few everyday items. Tell the participants that they are going to play a game, but do not give instructions or explain the object of the game. Ask the participants to open the bag and begin playing. They will expect the contents of the bag to explain the game. However, the contents do not provide this information, and the participants will wonder what they are supposed to do.
Our family enjoys searching thrift stores for old and obsolete games. If you’ve never heard of it, so much the better! Sometimes the games come with missing parts, and very often the instructions are missing. We have a lot of fun constructing a game out of what is in the box. Sometimes it’s obvious how to play, and sometimes we have to be creative, making up intricate rules as we go. We always end up with a family version — and if anyone who actually knew how to play the game should sit down with us, they might become frustrated that we weren’t playing by the “right” rules.
I guess that’s why this object lesson made such an impression on me. It occurred to me that this is a big reason why the Mormons and the evangelicals (indeed, any two religious sects) have such a problem with each other. We have the scriptures–the game in the box–although some of the pieces are missing, and there are no instructions. Each religious tradition has developed their own rules of how to play the game, what the purpose is, what the final goal shall be. For Mormons, we are here on earth to prove ourselves, to see if we will live the commandments, to perfect ourselves and come into the presence of God. So this is what we emphasize as we read the scriptures and expound our faith. This emphasis can sometimes look as if we are too focused on the “works” aspect of the gospel. The evangelicals have developed a set of instructions which is similar, but their emphasis is to discover a belief and faith in Jesus Christ, to develop a relationship with him and come to the Father through trust in the Atonement. They are playing the game just a bit differently.
There are some religious traditions which would assert that these things don’t really matter–that the skills we learn as we play the game are what is important: if we are getting better at being fair, honest, helping our fellow players, and moving our game piece to the final goal, we are accomplishing the purpose of life. Other religions, such as ours, put a lot of emphasis on if we are playing the game “right.” Baptism doesn’t count if you don’t have the right authority, all of the proper ordinances must be taken care of, certain commandments must be lived, or we won’t develop the kind of personality that can come into God’s presence.
So do you think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the true instructions? Do you think there IS one true set of instructions on how to play this game of life? What is the purpose of this game we are playing? Are you finding satisfactory answers in Lesson 1, and in the corresponding scripture block Moses 1, or do you think there is more to it?