Agreeing With God
by Nick Galieti
When studying the life of Christ I have pondered if His life and teachings show wether obedience is the goal, or if Obedience is simply a method to achieving the real goal. Jesus was perfectly obedient, and taught both the first law of heaven, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,”(Luke 10:27) as well as, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). One interpretation of these passages could conclude that the first and most important commandment is to keep all the commandments as a sign of our divine love. But is that the right interpretation?
If obedience alone was our primary purpose in this life, then perhaps Lucifer’s plan in the pre-mortal council that would have been favored. That plan would place obedience as the singular objective. As that plan was not the preferred plan to Heavenly Father, it would seem that there is something more to simply obedience that is the object of our mortal experience.
The answer came when I read a quote from Elder Sterling W. Sill, “It was a very fortunate man who said that he not only obeyed God, but that he also agreed with him.” This quote implies that there might be two different types of obedience. Obedience that is done as some form of compulsion or out of obligation is valued less than when we chose to obey the commandments because we agree with God.
What does it mean to agree with God? I suppose even that idea can have levels of individual interpretation. To agree with God would seem to imply a mind that is well reasoned, and unified decision or act in trust and conviction. It is to keep the commandments with what Moroni calls “real intent.”
6) For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
7) For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
8) For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
9) And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.
What then is “real intent?” Other than the name of this blog, I consider real intent to be related to covenant terms. Real intent means that we, at least initially, promise to do something for the right reasons, and in return there are promised divine acts. If we do something but not for the right reasons, as Moroni teaches, it profiteth nothing and is as if the act was never committed. In a covenant paradigm, this means that if we don’t keep our covenants with real intent, with a divine and genuine motivation, our fate is similar to those who never make the covenants in the first place. While these conclusions or penalties for failing to obey with real intent may seem severe, there is some added perspective that gives value in seeing obedience in light of its benefits, not just its warnings.
In speaking of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, President Eyring taught principles that I believe applies to all forms of obedience, not just priesthood covenant obedience, “There are at least two reasons why you should be confident rather than discouraged with the penalties that would follow either failing to keep the oath and covenant or deciding not to accept it. Whether you accept the oath and covenant and find it too difficult or if you fail to try, the penalty is the same. There is no question, therefore, that your best course and mine is to receive the holy priesthood and try with all of our hearts to keep its covenants. If we choose not to try, we would certainly lose the opportunity for eternal life. If we try and with God’s help succeed, we will gain eternal life.” (April 2008 General Conference)
To be obedient in the way that Jesus Christ was obedient is to fulfill our part of the Great Intercessory Prayer, “that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:22) In order for us to truly be one in the same way Jesus Christ was one with Heavenly Father, we must not just keep the commandments, but we must also agree with what they have asked of us.
This is a difficult standard to maintain, if not mortally impossible. The natural man that we have been sent here to Earth to overcome seems to guard the way to this better life. While many may doubt themselves to be one that agree’s with God to any notable degree, Elder Jeffery R. Holland offers hope to be confident in the process laid before us, “In moments of fear or doubt, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited.” (April 2013 General Conference) Most have had some experience in life where they have agreed with God, but we may not see it that way.
Agreeing with God is a process. It seems today that people who “agree with God” are in a rare group. Some may even see this group as unpopular, or disconnected. However, personal experience and the scriptures declare these individuals to be the fortunate ones. When we will learn to obey with real intent and love, as we learn to agree with God, our acts will be counted to us for our good.