07 August 2010

Can I get a Witness?



This picture is worth a great deal to me--not because the quality of the picture is good, not because it was taken with the best camera, and not because it meets the standards that would make it a masterpiece in the world's eyes.

This picture is worth a lot to me because of what I was doing--the miracles that happened--the day it was taken. I wasn't trying to impress anyone. I was trying to preserve a very sacred memory, and used what I had available to me at the time--which was someone else's camera phone. I took one shot to be polite, sent the picture to my own phone, and that's the only picture I have from the day my father was baptized and confirmed into the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This picture is a memory to me, a record. It's a record of the miracles that took place that day. The distortion and imperfections on this image do not affect the quality of my feelings and memories for those miracles.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the imperfections we find in our scriptures, our histories, and even in the lives of our leadership throughout the ages--their flaws are a lot like the imperfections and distortions to this picture. Their imperfections no more change the fact that their words bear and direct the Holy Ghost than the distortions on this picture change whether it's still a picture of the temple.

In the Book of Mormon, the word imperfection occurs three times. Each verse contains insight and instruction for those who discredit the Book of Mormon because it isn't a perfect record, according to their mortal standards. The verses read as follows:

And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you.
Mormon 8: 12
Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.
Mormon 9: 31
And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.
Mormon 9: 33

The Book of Mormon and the prophets of God do not need to be perfect to be who they say they are. Those who mock and reject the word of God or His servants because they do not follow human standards for artistic mastery, historical validity, philosophical or political merit--or any other standard other than God's own--overestimates the value of those mortal standards. They pass a superficial, mortal judgment on something eternal and spiritually perfect. They assume themselves capable of understanding perfection well enough to pass that judgment.

This is why missionaries from the Church ask their investigators to pray to Heavenly Father to gain a witness of the Book of Mormon. God is the only one who can judge truth and perfection, and is the only one who can declare whether someone's words are true. He directs the Holy Ghost, who is the only one who can give those investigators that witness. We can choose to accept or reject that witness from God, but we cannot obtain it in any other way.

May we understand that our scriptures and the prophets who recorded them are not holy because they are perfect. They are holy because the Holy Ghost attends them. Jesus Christ is perfect, and we should never trade communing with Him personally for our own understanding. If we want to receive perfection we must receive His voice through His ordained words and His chosen servants.

I bear this in solemn witness to His name, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

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