I teach the Gospel Doctrine lessons in my ward. In 2013, we finished the manual a few weeks early, so I got to pick what to teach on the last Sunday of the year. I felt the year wouldn't be complete without teaching what should be in the Doctrine and Covenants: The Lectures on Faith.
During the lesson, I read selections, including the following:
55 Let us here observe, that after any portion of the human family are made acquainted with the important fact that there is a God who has created and does uphold all things, the extent of their knowledge, respecting his character and glory, will depend upon their diligence and faithfulness in seeking after him, until like Enoch the brother of Jared, and Moses, they shall obtain faith in God, and power with him to. behold him face to face.
56 We have now clearly set forth how it is, and how it was, that God became an object of faith for rational beings; and also, upon what foundation the testimony was based, which excited the enquiry and diligent search of the ancient saints, to seek after and obtain a knowledge of the glory of God: and we have seen that it was human testimony, and human testimony only, that excited this enquiry, in the first instance in their minds--it was the credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers--this testimony having aroused their minds to enquire after the knowledge of God, the enquiry frequently terminated, indeed, always terminated, when rightly persued, in the most glorious discoveries, and eternal certainty
— Lecture 2
and also from the Second Lecture:
Q. How do men obtain a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
A. By devoting themselves to his service, through prayer and supplication incessantly, strengthening their faith in him, until like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses, they obtain a manifestation of God to themselves. (2:55.)
I was taken a little off guard by the classes reaction, but I probably shouldn't have been. It included some sentiments like:
- I'm not ready to have that kind of experience
- I just have to have faith that the leaders in Salt Lake are in close communication with Heaven.
- Not everyone can have that kind of experience, that's why we have Prophets.
Basically the concensus was to back off, deemphazise and distance from that possibility.
That attitude really isn't all that helpful. This life is the time to prepare to meet God. Whether the actual encounter occurs in this mortal sphere, or the next, we have to take as our aim becoming ready. It isn't something we can outsource to an organization or a heirarchy of leaders.
I'm planning on saving this little encounter in my back pocket when we discuss, and pity, the poor children of Israel who shrank back from the presence of the Lord at Sanai.