The Path to God

TODAY’S MUSINGS:  Recently a woman posted on Facebook how she once thought that there were certain ordinances and obedience required to return to God but that she no longer believed that.  She then said, “There are many paths to God and they are all good.”  Many people responded by saying, “God is love!!”

This has caused me to think again about the Plan of Salvation and the path to God.  Let me explain by beginning with a parable:

There once was a father who had many children.  He got them together and announced, “Great news kids!  We now have a huge mansion at the top of this mountain behind me.  Everyone can come!”  The children were thrilled!  What great news!  He continued, “Now there are no rules on how you get there but there is a time limit.  So feel free to go any way you want.  See you at the top!”

The kids thought this was terrific. “We can all get there – how easy is this?” “Man, I’m glad there’s no rules—I hate rules.”  “Dad sure loves me!”  And off they went.  Some followed the really easy path to the right and ended up just going in circles.  Some were attracted by the pretty waterfall and ran toward it, only to fall off a cliff and be drowned.  Some saw darkness down a path and thought that looked cool but ended up hopelessly lost in a string of caves.  Some sat on the side of the path and ran out of time.  Some fell into quicksand.  Some got tangled in horrible briar patches.  Some didn’t want a hard climb so ended up on a path leading downward—away from the mansion at the top.  And oh they complained!  “Doesn’t Dad love me?”  “Why didn’t he tell me a better way?”  “This is too hard, why bother?”  “I don’t think there’s a mansion—this is just a trick.”  And you can imagine, very, very few made it to the mansion at the top.

Now once there was another father who truly loved all of his children.  He announced there was a mansion and that everyone could come.  But then he said, “Because I love you, I’m going to guide you on the best path to reach the top.  Your older brother has already hiked the path perfectly so he can help you see the right path.  And because he walked it perfectly, he’s made it possible for you to not be penalized for your mistakes along the way.  That use of time will not count against you.  Follow the signs marked “Home” very carefully.  If you don’t follow them, bad things will happen.  And don’t sit on the side of the path for long because you’ll lose precious time.  This is going to be hard but it will be worth it.  See you at the top!”

Some of the children complained, “Why all the rules??”  Some thought, “I can go faster if I go my way and not his way.”  Some said, “If Dad loved us, he really won’t care which way we go.”  And off they went – and ended up just like the children in the first story.

But many paid attention.  They carefully looked for the signs and followed them.  They tried hard to obey the rules.  Sometimes they were tempted and hiked off toward the pretty waterfall but then they heard the voice of their brother faintly calling to them from the top of the mountain, “Whatever you do, don’t go toward the waterfall.  It’s dangerous!” and they returned to the path, confident that that detour was forgiven and that they were back in the right direction.  Other times they saw a large group of kids heading toward the caves, but they saw a sign pointing toward Home in the opposite direction.  Many areas of the path were steep, rocky, and hard to climb.  They had to work hard.  It wasn’t easy.  Sometimes they would get knocked off the path but they would hear their brother’s encouraging voice, “It’s OK—just get back on the path!”

But those who carefully followed the signs and listened to their brother made it.  Every single one.  And as they enjoyed the beautiful mansion, they knew it was worth it.

In today’s world, some people say, “It doesn’t really matter which path you follow.”  But God is not a God of confusion!  He wants us all to return and become like Him and He knows there is a best path.  Some say, “Ordinances don’t matter, religion doesn’t matter, whatever church you want to follow doesn’t matter.”  But it does matter.  When Christ came to the earth, He didn’t say, “Eh, whatever religion you want is fine—go ahead and follow the Pharisees and their doctrine or follow the Sadducees and their doctrine.  It’s all good.”  Nope.  He established HIS church and true doctrine from God.  Very clearly.  God is not a God of confusion.

Some people will say, “God is love!” which is true.  But they say it as if He doesn’t care—that whatever we do is fine.  That’s like me as a mother saying to my kids, “Go ahead!  Eat all the candy you want!!  No problem!”  But I know that for my kids to be healthy, they need to eat fruits and vegetables.  A parent is not loving when they just let their kids eat whatever they want, do whatever they want, sleep in to whenever they want.  That is not love.  A loving parent sets rules, teaches the consequences to breaking then, and enforces them to help their children become healthy and mature.

We know that there are consequences to our choices—so does God.  Those consequences are not magically removed.  They are there to teach us and guide us to becoming like Him.

For example, God tell us not to have sex outside of marriage—to be morally clean.  Why?  Because He knows that is the best path to be like Him.  Think about it—what are the consequences of that choice:  no unintended pregnancy outside of marriage, no venereal disease, much more stable marriage and less likelihood of divorce, better health, deeper character developed from delaying gratification, more self-respect, more self-esteem, more respect for the opposite sex—I could go on and on.  Just from one choice.  As I said, God looks at the big picture and says, “I know where this would lead so don’t do it.”  But many will whine and complain and say, “But why?  We’re not hurting anyone!” and on and on.  He knows better.

It is because God is loving that He wants the best for us and knows the best way to help us become like Him.  He has established commandments for us to obey because He loves us and because that is the best way to become like Him.  He calls us to repent (turn back to Him) and provides forgiveness for when we mess up.  He has established His true church—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—to show the best path to return to Him and to become like Him. 

God is love.  And His love is shown by helping us to become like Him and to live His life.  That is His work—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of Man.”