Alma 23-29 They Never Did Fall Away
The story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies is far and away one of my favorite in all of the Book of Mormon. The lessons we learn from these people are so numerous that it seems like each time I read about them, a new thought comes to mind. But truly, the greatest thought I ever have as I read this story is that I hope one day people can say, when speaking about me, is that I "never did fall away". That I was always faithful. Not perfect, because I can't even begin to expect that in this life. But just that I remained true and never did fall away. That I was always trying to do better.
Is it possible that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies really never did fall away?
Because this story is abridged by Mormon, it's nice that he's able to include the "ending" right here in the story. We never have to wonder what happens, or if they stayed true to the faith that they had found. Because we get to know it right as the story is being told. We read later in 3 Nephi about how all the Church was broken up, save it were "that Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it."
What does it take to ensure that we never fall away?
Mormon tells us that these people "were distinguished for their zeal for God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end."
That's a pretty good explanation. But it also sounds like it's going to require a lot of effort. Especially if I'm going to push through "unto the end".
Zeal for God and towards men
For me, having zeal for God has been pretty easy for the last couple of years. Because I have been so diligent in my scripture study and prayer, my relationship with Him has changed. I really do find my thoughts and actions turning more to Him all the time.
But zeal towards men...that's a completely different story. And sadly, I think a lot of what we should be feeling for our fellow man is falling by the wayside right now.
The world is brimming with hate and judgement.
I watched a man get out of his car and scream at the woman in the car in front of him at a red light. Why? Because she didn't pull forward enough to go through the light when it turned yellow. I was actually afraid for her as I watched him screaming.
A woman sidled up to me in the store to mumble a passive aggressive comment about how I was killing people because I wasn't wearing a mask. She has no idea why I wasn't wearing one and I doubt she'd care that I have a legitimate medical reason for not doing so.
My sister posted an innocent comment on social media stating her opinion and got blasted for it, including by people of the same faith. People said things to her there that they would never say to her face. Why is that okay?
It's sad, so sad. We should be loving and caring for each other and instead there is so much hatred, blame, judgement, fear... all these tools that the adversary is using to drive a wedge between us. I, myself, have had some serious problems with anger over things I cannot control. I am trying to do better, but it's a daily battle.
Standing firm in the faith of Christ
After a whole week of watching this up close and having it get personal, I got pretty bogged down in negativity. I started to realize my hope for things to get better was waning.
The truth is, maybe things won't get better. Maybe they will get worse.
But the one thing that will always be constant is the Savior. His love for us is constant, despite our circumstances. His Atonement is available to heal us. I have to have the faith for things NOT to get better. To know that the Lord is in charge, that all things go according to His plan. And it's clearly different than my plan.
If I want to be sure and live a life as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies did and never fall away, I need to be sure that my faith in Christ is firm.
This week's lesson helps
While I didn't address it in this blog post, one of the most important messages for our time from this lesson is that of religious freedom. It's interesting that as soon as he is converted, one of the first orders of business of the king is to grant religious freedom to all his people.
Religious freedom is a tough subject for kids, and as I went looking for activities for kids that teach this principle, they were a little hard to find. I did find an article in the Liahona, and I included it on the Challenge Cards for kids, and there will be a link to it below. However, it may be a little "mature" for young kids, so before having your kids read it, you may want to read it and access whether it is good for them. I feel like it's an important topic, and this article by Elder Rasband is really good, so I think it's worth checking out.
If you know of an activity, article, story or video that teaches religious freedom for kids, please feel free to drop it in the comments to share!
Here are the links that go with this week's Challenge Cards
Faith, Fairness and Religious Freedom
Why Did Converted Lamanites Call themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehies?
Book of Mormon Stories: The People of Ammon
Religion and Religious Freedom in the Covid 19 Era (David A. Bednar)
And When He Came to Himself by David A. Bednar (this is the written version of the video linked above if you'd rather read it)
Joy Cometh in the Morning by Russell M. Nelson
Come All Ye Sons of God by Thomas S. Monson
Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom by Quentin L. Cook
I hope you have a great week of study! If you are missing challenge cards from past lessons, be sure to check out the link for FREE STUFF. I add them by the month once the month is over. If you'd like to get the new cards for each week's lesson, be sure to subscribe to my Come Follow Me Newsletter!
Converted Unto the Lord by David A. Bednar