20 May 2008

The Forgotten

Sam, Shiblon, Hyrum, and others figure less prominently in the annals of history than do their counterparts, Nephi, Helaman and Joseph Jr.; however, with this post, I hope to focus on the lesser-known figures as we consider their contributions. By doing so, I hope to provide an opportunity for us to consider the oft-unacknowledged hand of many comparable figures in our own lives--and to take comfort in the Lord's approval of this more prevalent form of service in the kingdom. I call these "the forgotten" not because we do not know their names (although the scriptures have plenty of accounts of some "forgotten" whose names are omitted entirely, too), but because they do not figure as prominently in our collective memory--we have forgotten them in favor of other, more visible, figures.
One of my favorite accounts of "the forgotten" comes immediately following Mormon's tribute to Captain Moroni. Without detracting from Moroni's leadership and exemplary life (which Mormon describes as having power to shake the powers of hell and resist the power of the devil), it seems appropriate to recognize the less-heralded, but likewise powerful influence of those whose contributions may not be announced as widely. As Mormon concluded his description of Moroni, he inserted what might appear to be an aside regarding others who he regarded equally with Moroni:

18 Behold, he [Moroni] was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.

19 Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words.

Alma 48: 18-19. This passage implies that men and women of God could be likewise described as having power to shake hell and ward off the devil--even when they may not lead thousands in battle. (See Alma 48:17). By including Alma "and his sons," Mormon certainly includes Helaman, but also Shiblon and Corianton. That the same tribute could be applied to Shiblon and Corianton suggests that being an extraordinary historical figure is not a prerequisite to meriting praise similar to Captain Moroni.
In like manner, father Lehi paid tribute not only to Nephi's righteousness, but also to Sam, bestowing a blessing as recorded below:
11 And after he had made an end of speaking unto them, he spake unto Sam, saying: Blessed art thou, and thy seed; for thou shalt inherit the land like unto thy brother Nephi. And thy seed shall be numbered with his seed; and thou shalt be even like unto thy brother, and thy seed like unto his seed; and thou shalt be blessed in all thy days.
2 Ne. 4:11. "Thou shalt be even like unto thy brother." Lehi likens Sam, a virtual unknown to most of us, to Nephi, the great hero to so many Latter-day Saints! His position as patriarach of the family and prophet to the people attests to the veracity of this teaching. By recording this blessing, Nephi conveys to the modern reader, together with Mormon, the egalitarianism of the gospel. Nephi is not greater because he figures more prominently into Nephite history. Nor is Shiblon a lesser citizen because of the limited range of broadcast for his life's mission.
Hyrum Smith and John the Baptist also present historical figures who recognized their more limited roles while serving with more recognizable figures. Said John, "He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30. Yet Jesus later taught "Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist." Luke 7:28. The Lord Himself praised Hyrum for "the integrity of his heart." Doctrine and Covenants 124:15. From such figures, we can see how the Lord uses us each differently, but values us equally. See Doctrine and Covenants 18:10.
Hoping you will forgive the personal aside, in a relative short time frame (I'm 27 at the time of this writing), I have held many callings, ranging from Aaronic Priesthood presidencies to Scouting to Sunday School to Bishoprics to Elder's Quorum positions to Primary to Missionary work to Activities to Home Teaching. Some of these certainly gave more visibility to my service than others. All rewarded me for my efforts to serve. Having experienced such a range of opportunities and having observed many who have served me, I have gained a greater appreciation for the service rendered by thousands and even millions of Latter-day Saints which falls into the category of "the forgotten." Men and women of God regularly give of self in worship of their Lord and their God.
So I post today to point out how we, as everyday adherents to the Lord's covenants, contribute greatly to the kingdom and (despite worldly accollades which gravitate to the visible contributors) merit mention alongside Nephi, Helaman, Joseph, Moroni, and the noble and great ones of yore. Although these faithful are often forgotten for a time, all are "alike unto God" (2 Ne. 26:33), known and remembered unto God.
As taught by Paul,
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 (I'll post more thoughts on this passage another time). When Paul calls our living sacrifice of our bodies "acceptable" unto God, he uses language echoing that of the Father--the same Greek root is at work in describing our sacrifice as "acceptable" as when the Father describes Jesus as His Beloved Son in Whom He is "well pleased." May we find ourselves in the company of Sam, Shiblon, Hyrum, and the other "forgotten" in becoming well pleasing unto the Father.

1 comment:

Seth said...

A passage that further encourages the importance of the "forgotten" alongside the more well know righteous is 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 concerning "the body of Christ." Let us remember that "all the members of that one body, being many, are one body."