Speaking of rescue boats, they are a good idea. Staying in the boat is also a good idea.
But staying in the boat doesn’t mean you have to pretend it’s the Princess Cruises or Royal Caribbean, like so many do. Staying in the boat doesn’t mean you have to joyfully sing songs of praise and honor to the seriously-flawed individual who restored the boat ages ago. Staying in the boat doesn’t mean you have to adore its captain or crew, honoring them with titles, imbuing them with super-human abilities, making them near demi-gods, placing them above the others on the boat in rank and importance. Staying in the boat doesn’t mean that it’s essential for you to repeatedly affirm that it is the only “true” rescue boat (if that even means anything).
No, staying in the boat doesn’t mean a lot of what the other crazies and extremists in the boat think it means. But, by all means, you need to stay in the boat. Please don’t jump out.
True faith is centered in Jesus Christ and no one or nothing else … not even boats.
To help you endure the boat, please keep in mind, that the boat is just a boat, floating out there in a vast sea. It’s inherently transitory and fleeting. It’s a means to an end intended to help you get by with a context for living until the Big Boat (see John 18:36; D&C 65:5-6) comes and you are delivered to the safety of a new reality and new existence.
Remarkably, our own doctrine teaches that the new reality will include people who weren’t on the rescue boat with us:
“Some members of the Church have an erroneous idea that when the millennium comes all of the people are going to be swept off the earth except righteous members of the Church. That is not so. There will be millions of people. Catholics, Protestants, agnostics, [Muslims], people of all classes, and of all beliefs[.]…”
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. I, p. 86, Publishers Press, 1954; see also Gospel Principles, Chapter 45, The Millenium .)
Unfortunately, the people on the boat forget this and often have a distorted view of themselves and the boat, which makes it difficult to want to stay in. For example, rather than seeing the boat as a temporary means to an end, they see the boat as the end all, be all. In reality, however, the Church is not the kingdom of heaven, which is the Big Boat, something much bigger than the Church. More importantly, the Church is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a difference.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that, among other things, there is more to reality than just the boat! And praised be God for that! The gospel of Jesus Christ is a state of consciousness, not a set of tenets or beliefs. It consists of the laws of reality you need to not only survive but to be happy, including during your temporary time on the boat. Focusing on the gospel will help you be happy during your time on the boat. It will help you be in the boat but not of the boat, as I have written elsewhere. More importantly, it will give you that state of consciousness needed for your entire existence.
The gospel, for example, teaches you that true faith is centered in Jesus Christ and no one or nothing else … not even boats. (Articles of Faith 4.) That means everything else is ancillary. Therefore, feel free to doubt everything else because it is nonessential, despite what the extremists and co-passengers in the boat tell you.
When your consciousness is transformed to love them as you ought, you will see the Big Boat on the horizon, hope will return, and you will be able to endure the rest of your journey on the little boat.
Faith in Jesus Christ, in turn, teaches you that your true identity and purpose is love. God is love. (1 John 4:8.) You are a child of God. Therefore, love is who you really are. If you really believe that, then you will realize your purpose is to love and to become the embodiment of love. If God is love, then that is what you must become. And if you can learn how to function at this level of consciousness, it will help you both endure and transform your boat community. Love endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7) … even our “peculiar” Church boat!
Being centered at this level of consciousness empowers you with the knowledge that how you behave matters more than what you (or they) believe. It helps you leave—and when expedient, ignore—that often toxic level of consciousness that faith and faithfulness is the subjective submission to and acceptance of theologies and policies, conformity, or obeisance to authority. Feel free to doubt and question those externalities all you want (although it’s a waste of time and will get you nowhere). My advice, however, is to stay focused on who you are and who you are trying to become.
You’ll never find yourself by being by yourself .
Real faith is not conformity or subjective belief. It is trusting that the “true” religion is found in what you do, how you behave, and what you become. In a word, it is orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. (See James 1:27; Matthew 5.) Do you have faith enough to just shrug your shoulders and say “okay … whatever” when those in your boat prattle on about boat hierarchy or boat history that you know to be false? Is your faith strong enough to recognize that those things really don’t matter and that how you treat your fellow boat members is what it’s really all about? Is your faith strong enough to rise above? In some sense, as you contemplate these questions you realize the boat is almost the ideal proving ground for real faith.
Your real journey, though, is to return to yourself. But you’ll never find yourself by being by yourself. You need the boat and its castaway crew of crazies and conformists, all of whom you’ve been called to love. When your consciousness is transformed to love them as you ought, you will see the Big Boat on the horizon, hope will return, and you will be able to endure the rest of your journey on the little boat. This is the way:
“20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward … and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.”