Football, FHE, and Sacrifice

This week I have two somewhat unrelated thoughts based on the same talk by Elder Rector of the Seventy. The first curiously enough involves Monday Night Football and technology, while the second is on the Abrahamic sacrifice.

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In the fall of 1970, the Church announced that family home evening would be held on Monday nights. That same year, the NFL began airing Monday Night Football. Coincidence?  In conference one year later, Elder Hartman Rector Jr. of the seventy observed that, “the other side announced that there would be professional football games on Monday nights.”

While it is not likely that Satan had much to do with the decision to begin airing football games on Mondays, Elder Rector’s observation raises an interesting point. Satan always attempts to subvert any new developments for his own sinister purposes. Holding family home evening on Monday nights merely provided a new battlefield for Satan to wage war for the souls of men.

Such has been the case with the development of all major technologies. Development of television and film has led to uplifting and inspiring content, but also snuff films and pornography. Development of improved medicine has saved countless lives but also brought on the scourge of prescription drug addiction. The internet has revolutionized missionary work and family history research, but also allowed unfettered access to demoralizing filth.

As Elder David A. Bednar observed in his groundbreaking devotional on the use of technology to share the Gospel, the “miraculous progression of innovations and inventions . . . are part of the Lord hastening His work in the latter days.” As he had previously suggested, “neither technology nor rapid change in or of itself is good or evil  the real challenge is to understand both within the context of the eternal plan of happiness.” Elder Bednar raised an apostolic warning of the potential danger that comes from the misuse of technology, and also an apostolic injunction to use technology to share the Gospel. We must decide for ourselves how to use these technologies and how to prioritize the time in our lives.

Elder Hartman notes that such decisions frequently require sacrifice. We must give up on things that we want in order to do the things that matter most. We must give up on watching football on Monday nights in order to get the full blessings of FHE, for instance. “[I]nstead of endlessly doing what we want to do, we have to do what the Lord wants us to do, but we have to do it in his way when he wants us to do it.”It isn’t an easy choice, but it is one necessary for eternal happiness and exaltation.

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As I previously noted, Elder Rector’s talk was focused on the necessity of sacrifice to bring forth the blessings of heaven. Elder Rector went through the poignant examples of Abraham sacrificing Isaac and the ultimate atoning sacrifice of the savior. He noted that the blessings of Christ’s atonement “was possible only through sacrifice.”

Elder Rector noted that most people do not understand why we are called to sacrifice, and therefore do not have the faith or conviction needed to sacrifice the things that they want. He quoted a very startling part of the lectures on faith:

“It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. …

“It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtain faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner, offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.

“Those, then, who make the sacrifice, will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God. …”

Elder Rector then explained that “[f]rom this it is apparent that sacrifice, no matter how disagreeable it may be, is absolutely vital, for it is the only means the Lord has provided for his children to gain the faith and assurance necessary to successfully return to his presence in condition to enjoy eternal life.

These are difficult teachings, very hard to hear and bear.  But they also flow logically. If we must align our will fully with the will of the father in order to inherit eternal life, then in order to be assured of our ultimate exaltation, we must also show ourselves willing to give up all things for God. This doesn’t mean that God will literally ask of all things from us, but only that we must show ourselves ready to give everything up.

It is only AFTER we have made an Abrahamic sacrifice that we can be assured that we are fully accepted. Of course, this doesn’t mean that God is not with us before that point. He is the one that helps to grant us the faith to make the difficult choices we need. It is only through his atonement that we are enabled and given the strength to give up all things for God. We need God at every step of the way or else we can never do what we are called to do. More importantly, only God’s grace can give us the charity and love to do what we need with the spirit of devotion and worship needed. For our sacrifices must not be grudging ones, but ones done out of love for our father in Heaven.

 

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