Have you ever tried lifting a piano? They are heavy, thick and tricky to handle. To lift, you need several strong people, you need to coordinate the travel of the piano together, and you need to lift where you stand. President Dieter Uchtdorf, an Apostle of the Lord, compared this lifting up of a piano to the service of God we give in our families and local areas, united in the hastening of the work of salvation.
As Latter-day Saints, we love this talk.
We understand the visual and we feel a desire in our bosom to serve.
But do we get side-tracked and try to lift other pianos? Do we get so caught up in contention that we don’t even get to the actual lifting? The following are a few “pianos” that I see many LDS are trying to fruitlessly lift that represent deceptions of Satan.
I personally have struggled with several of these pianos myself, so I write this post not only as a record of my observations, but also as a way to keep myself accountable and seek wisdom in my personal repentance.
- The dusty, old piano
There are many who walk away from the piano before them and drift over into corners, seeking out dusty, old piano’s. The piano keys used to work graciously, but now the pianos main purpose is to remind us of beautiful music once played.
There are two groups of people who lift the musty, antique piano. The first group dwells in the past of Church history. They get caught up in some tale of Joseph Smith’s life; they get confused about polygamy and decide perhaps not all the Church is true because of what they perceive to be past mistakes or errors. They get caught up in the mountain meadows massacre, Joseph Smith looking into a hat to translate or supposed mistakes in the book of Abraham.
The other group venerates Church history and assumes events that happened in the past can be used as authority for present action. For example, there are many who cite events of Church history – such as women giving healing blessings – to justify current actions. Another example is looking at events from the past to predict those of the future. Some believe that the restoration was in its fullest at the time of Joseph Smith and that the Church needs to somehow come full circle, picking up the pieces that were left behind in the past.
There are countless examples, but all lead back to a fruitless attempt of lifting a piano that only falls apart when the legs lift from the ground. I’m not saying we should turn our back on the past. On the contrary, we should love our history and learn from it. In the Book of Mormon, there are literally hundreds of verses that exhort us to look to the past and “Remember, remember!” But the purpose of looking to the past is to build our faith to accomplish current, inspired action.
Some linger at this piano, trying to lift the old, forgotten instrument and others remain their permanently. But no matter how long they stay or their motive for being there, they have stepped away from the piano that is most important: the one in current time, that needs lifting now and needs playing now.
- The organ
The organ is a beautiful, majestic instrument. The music that swells from its large, shiny pipes is deep, powerful and poignant. The organ is an essential instrument in the grand music of the restored Gospel. But it is quite heavy. Some of the smallest organs are several hundred lbs, while some of the largest are thousands of lbs. There are some LDS who are not concerned with the past, but very much consumed with the precepts of the here and now. They see the illustrious organ, leave behind the piano before them, and try with all their might to lift the heavy instrument.
This group has garnered a lot of media attention, discussion, debate and criticism. They seek to “tweak” or even grandly change the doctrines of the Church. Some are faithful, contrite, intelligent, educated, Latter-day Saints. In their hearts, they know that lifting the organ will be for the betterment of all. A few examples are the Ordain Women movement, those who believe the Church ought to become proponents of Gay Marriage, or other groups who believe that doctrine that “needs” changing. They argue that they are simply 20 years advanced from the leaders of the Church and that grass-roots voices are one inspired way to receive revelation for the whole membership of the Church.
Discussion, questions and seeking understanding of doctrine are not only welcomed, but encouraged by our Church leaders. The role of God is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man and he sets the conditions. The role of members is to listen to God via the living Prophet and keep the commandments. The pattern God has set forth if we have concerns with doctrine is humble prayer, sincere scripture study and meeting with a Bishop or Relief Society President.
Only the all powerful God can lift this essential instrument through his mouthpiece upon the earth – the Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. Even when admonished to leave the organ as is – as the only lifting will be that of the hands of God – some stubbornly remain. Their backs hurt from the strain, their muscles are pulled, and they often give up all together, exhausted from the futile lifting. They walk away from the Church or never stop trying to lift that dubiously heavy organ, forgetting entirely the piano before them that actually can be lifted.
- The bickering or apathetic piano
This is the correct piano. The one that can be lifted. It stands right before you. But this group of Saints is not lifting because they are either too preoccupied bickering about how to lift the piano or too consumed with other “priorities” in life. This piano is begging to be picked up but there is too much contention or apathy for any action to take place.
The first group looks like a lot of endless debates with endless blog posts and endless in-Ward bickering. Some seek popularity or trends while others seek to be right. Either way, the endless debates about modesty, how Church policy needs to be changed, or how the Bishop is doing a horrible job is leading this group away from actually lifting the piano.
The second group is “sleeping through the Restoration.” They are either too busy to help lift or too apathetic to care. This group believes that family time is more important than going to Church on Sunday, home teaching will happen next month and the stronger, more spiritual family next door will do the lifting anyways.
This piano is literally crying to be played and lifted. It has such significant needs that can be simply met. Satan will get us to do anything except which we are supposed to, even semi-related or peripheral LDS topics. When concerns arise about Church policy, culture, procedures or callings, then open up an honest dialogue with local leaders. Make the discussions meaningful and immediately applicable to your family or ward members. Those who insist on bickering or being apathetic may find a smashed up piano as it is unsuccessfully moved.
- The piano bench
The piano bench is an assistant to the piano; a pianist sits upon the cushion to play the instrument. It is light, easy to lift, and is usually a simple, quant piece of furniture. But it doesn’t play a note of music. The group of piano-bench-lifters is hands-on – they want to serve, help and lift right where they stand. The only problem is that instead of lifting the piano with the help and direction of their leaders and others, they want to lift, not the piano, but the bench, and do it all by themselves. They pick up the wrong piece – the piano bench, or their own thoughts and ideas and then move it themselves, leaving behind the voices of Prophetic counsel. This is the piano bench of supposed “personal revelation.”
Anytime someone feels they have received personal revelation that goes against the counsel of their local leaders or the Prophet of God, they drop the piano where they stand and lift the piano bench, a solo act that brings no great reward. They are convinced that God, through personal revelation, has shown them a private way to become a better disciple, but it inconveniently goes perhaps a “little” against the counsel of God’s chosen servants.
It is a very rare occasion indeed where the Lord will be “divided” against his own house, meaning, it is a finding of a four-leaf clover event that the Lord would ever give a member of the Church personal revelation that is not in harmony with His teachings given by His chosen Servants. What if that actually does happen to you? If we ever receive personal revelation that goes against God’s commands or guidance, seek out a Bishop for counsel.
This group of people will pick up piano benches, follow those who are truly lifting the piano, but miss out on the blessings of moving the actual instrument. They may even pick up the bench and wander off, missing the goal of eternal life entirely.
- The brown, plain, average piano
You have all seen this piano. It sits in the rooms of every chapel in the LDS Church or your own living room. It is brown, plain, upright, used, but still plays good, beautiful music. This piano represents the pokey, old local ward we live in. It is a symbol of our family, spouse, and children. It is a symbol of our neighbor’s right next door.
This is the piano God wants us to lift, and do it right now, right where we stand. Simply put, we need to “bloom where we you are planted” and lift where we stand. Jesus said to us all, “If ye love me, feed my sheep.” In essence, Jesus is saying, “If ye love me, feed my sheep, right here, right now. Your family. Your neighborhood. Your ward.”
Are we too caught up in debates within our own Church to forget the perishing souls around us? Are we caught up in our own personal revelations to forget the needs of our family? Are we distracted by bickering or Church history? Are we spending our time in useless and even destructive practices? If so, now is the time to put down that old piano or that heavy organ, stop bickering and come to the piano that is right before you. Your family needs you. There are souls to be saved in your local neighborhood and ward. Come, as Jesus said, and feed His sheep.
Lift where you stand, that you and I be not deceived.