A couple years ago I struck up a conversation with a new co-worker who had just moved to the area. I asked him about his religious beliefs and if they have found a church in town. He told me that he was raised a Baptist but has sort of drifted around to various non-denominational Christian churches ever since moving out on his own. He told me that everyone in his family is still very active in the Baptist community and that his grandfather, a Baptist minister, has seen a vision. He went on to tell me about his…. Wait go back, a vision?!
I asked him to tell me more about the vision and, thankfully, he was more than happy to.
I was walking with Christ in old Jerusalem. Without speaking, we walked down a dusty road towards a temple made of white stone. When we stepped inside, you can imagine my horror when I saw the severed limbs of a man strewn about the beautiful marble floor.
At this point, I started inching my way back to the safety of my cubicle. But then he proceeded to say…
Christ pointed to the dismembered body parts and said “This is my body. This is my church. See how it no longer resembles me and has been broken apart by wicked men.”
I think I must have passed out because I don’t remember anything more about the vision after that point. As soon as I could compose myself enough to speak I asked him “do you know who Joseph Smith is?!”
He said has heard the name but doesn’t really know anything about him. “……..can I tell you about him?!”(By now I’m so excited that I’m pretty much yelling). Despite my less than dignified invitation, he seemed eager to set up a time to come over and meet with the missionaries.
I’m sorry to say that this was the last time I ever saw this co-worker. Apparently he had been coming in late almost every day so the day I spoke to him also happened to be the day he got fired.
As sad as it is that we weren’t able to have him meet with the missionaries, I trust that he will have another opportunity to hear the gospel at some future time.
The reason for this disgusting/awesome/”oh c’mon!!!” kind of story is because it sparked a new line of thinking for me.
We sometimes hear about the church being referred to as the “body of Christ”. Prior to this interaction at work, I have always thought the phrase to mean “we are His hands“. Or even more straight forward, we are a body (or group) of believers.
But now I think about it a little more literally.
(Click the links or scroll down for more on how each item parallels with the history of the church).
- His body was tortured, persecuted, and cast out.
- The law was changed to make his death legal.*
- His body was pushed to its absolute limits in the service of others (many of whom would take it for granted or abuse the charity shown to them).
- His body was abandoned, betrayed and made a mockery of.
- His body healed the sick and afflicted.
- His body visited many nations and preached the Gospel in every tongue.
- His body was taken from the earth for a time but rose (or was restored) again in its fullness.
I’m not implying that other churches haven’t been persecuted. Or that other churches don’t preach the gospel around the world. But I am unaware of any other religion which would match the breadth and the depth to which the LDS church follows this pattern. Granted, I wrote the pattern.
I also know that there will be some who would cry Parallelomania and that’s fine**.
This is definitely still a thought in progress*** but to me this is a powerful testament that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints must be His church restored again to the earth because of how closely it has followed the pattern of His life.
“Is it enough alone to know that we must follow Him below, while traveling through this vale of tears? No, this extends to holier spheres.”
The clear difference between the literal body of Christ and the church is that, unlike Christ, and because of Christ, the church need never walk this path alone.
* First, let’s review the events leading up to the crucifixion of the Savior.
By law, charges were not allowed to originate from the Sanhedrin (or the Jewish court), yet most biblical scholars agree that it was the Judges themselves who brought charges of blasphemy against Jesus without any prior testimonies from 3rd party sources.
Because they were either incapable or unwilling to kill Him they changed their charges from blasphemy (a Jewish crime) to treason (a Roman crime) and by so doing, they laid the responsibility to carry out the punishment squarely upon the Romans.
Another interesting note is that a capital sentence under Jewish law would have meant being stoned to death, but crucifixion was the capital punishment under Roman law. Since Christ was crucified and not stoned we can conclude that Jesus was condemned as a violator of Roman law. As we know, Pilate (a Roman governor) interviewed Jesus and found no fault in him. As far as I know, He was never even pronounced guilty before the punishment was carried out.
Now for the church.
The first parallel I made regarding the law being broken or changed to make the killing of Mormons legal was the Extermination Order. This was an order issued in 1838 by the Governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs. In the order, he says that “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state…” Although the order was largely forgotten over the next decade or so, it remained in effect until 1975 when it was rescinded by Governor Bond.
But later, I found another parallel which I find much more fascinating.
Joseph Smith was initially brought to Carthage under the charge of disorderly conduct but, with some help from some church members, he was able to post bail and was set free. However, before he could leave town, his accusers changed the charge from disorderly conduct to treason, a charge for which you cannot post bail and a charge which, if convicted, carries the death penalty.
The Governor of Illinois (Governor Ford) came to Carthage and met with Joseph. After finding no fault in him, he promised to bring Joseph with him to Nauvoo the next day (presumably to seek a fair trial). But when the morning came, Governor Ford left town without Joseph. Instead, he took most of the neutral troops with him and left the jail in the care of the Carthage Greys (a group who have publicly announced their intent to kill the Prophet and his brother Hyrum).
It seems to me that, like the Governor of Rome, the Governor of Illinois feared the crowd more than he valued truth, justice, innocence, or life itself.
** Whereas the definition seems to specify that Parallelomania is “where authors perceive apparent similarities and construct parallels and analogies without historical basis“. I believe that there is more than enough historical basis.
*** I would love to hear of any other parallels you have thought of in the comment section below.