We know we live in a fallen and imperfect world, that God has light and knowledge for us, both individually and as a church that we have yet to earn because of our failure to apply what we already know with diligence.
We know that the outward form of the gospel varies dramatically by time, era and place (seen any Levites recently? Think Abraham relied on them? Alma?) Yet we often do not think about how that might interact with us today. But what does that really mean?
The gospel in action in any era appears to be a sub-set of the meta-set that is the gospel. We acknowledge the difference between the culture (Mormon) and the Church (LDS). It is easy, sometimes, to miss the gap between the Church and the Gospel (Christ) because the current Church is what God has given our generation to convey the Gospel.
So, in one generation there is no pork, no catfish and no shrimp on the dinner menu. In another generation everyone is circumcised. In one generation, only Levites hold the priesthood. In another, the kings select who is to be a priest. Sometimes the gospel of Christ goes only to the house of Israel, at other times to all nations.
Often there are multiple factors at play at once. Sometimes a change only waits until we ask. At other times a change is thrust upon us. At other times, God says “not yet” and may even say “it will happen, but you need to quit asking, your time is not the time.”
I rarely see anyone discussing why they think we have the sub-set of the gospel we have, what it would take to change, and why we should be obeying now, with faith our slice of the whole. We accept that when Israel split into the Northern and Southern kingdoms that Jeroboam sinned against God by passing the priesthood outside the tribe of Levi and by setting up his own alters. We nod at the story of Saul, who led the sacrifice himself, not waiting for Samuel, and the lecture he got about how obedience is better than the fat of rams.
But, do we accept, that perhaps, we need to live within our restrictions, no matter how good of a reason we think we have to insist otherwise? Do we seek out God for knowledge, patience and faith? Where are the Cornelius’ of our generation, to the extent that change is appropriate and timely? Are we Peter, Paul, Cornelius or are we Jeroboam?
Some good examples.
- Wine in the Bible is generally a grape beer, about 2% to 3% alcohol, cut 4-1 with water so that the finished product is about 20% wine with an alcohol content of .4% to .6% — similar to home brewed root beer. It was used to make water safer to drink and for nutrition. Even so, there is a frission or friction in the older scriptures about it (cf. Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11).
- Who has the priesthood, who prophesies? 2 Kings 22:14; Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; Alma 32:23; Nehemiah 6:14.
- Polygamy, need I say more? Jacob 2:30.
There are many other examples, things done in one time and place, conduct guidelines, mores, laws, privileges and rules. All seem to be schoolmasters to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).
So, what of our set have you decided to ignore? If you had been with Moses, what would you have thought to opt out of? (Exodus 22:22; 23:2?). What makes our time, our obedience, different from what went before? Why? How much of our set of the gospel for our age should we leave for others to abide and not ourselves? Why?