As a teenager, I didn't like the topic of obedience. I felt like I was being told what to do and was being fenced-in. I felt like the principle of obedience automatically narrowed my options and didn't let me choose my own paths. I'm sure many people feel this way, and it took me a long time to understand why it's important to be obedient. I made sure that I not only did my own research and had many talks with my parents, but also had lots of conversations with my Heavenly Father to have Him teach me His first law in heaven.
This topic has actually been on my mind ever since I had a training meeting for work a couple weeks ago. We talked about the difference between obedience and righteousness. When my supervisor first asked that question, I could not find any connections at all. However, after listening to the discussion of my coworkers, I think I finally understood the relationship.
Obedience is not a final destination; it is a principle that leads to righteousness.
If becoming obedient is our final destination, then satan’s plan would have sufficed. But we know that that is not what our Father in Heaven desired. He doesn’t just want us to blindly follow all the commandments and just come home not having grown at all. No, His purpose is to help us BECOME LIKE HIM! Obedience will give us the necessary experience to understand gospel principles and doctrines.
There are times when we don’t know why we do certain things: Nephi had an experience like that. He knew he was commanded to go back to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates, but he didn’t know exactly why and how that would be made possible. 1 Nephi 4: 6 says,
“And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”
Now, this may seem like blind obedience; just doing what he was told. And that may be so, but Nephi had the faith that there is a purpose and that God will reveal that reason to him… eventually.
I believe that we still do need to be obedient to the Lord even when we don’t understand why… yet. But I also believe that God isn’t stingy about revealing the why! We know that He teaches us in steps. In 2 Nephi 28: 30, it says,
“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”
Here, the Lord promises that when we hearken unto His teachings, even if they are little by little, He will reveal more and more, and eventually we will understand why. It’s just a snowball effect from there. As we understand why, we want to follow Him more. When we follow Him more, we are becoming more righteous. We are becoming “new creatures” in Christ (Mosiah 27:25,26).
As we can see, obedience is the first law of heaven, in the sense that we need structure first to experience and understand certain principles of the gospel. As we are obedient, God will give us more wisdom and testimony which will eventually contribute greatly to us being converted in the Lord. Thus, obedience is not a destination; it is a principle that leads to righteousness.
Article written by: Jessica Kakegawa
Jessica has an Utahn father and a Japanese mother. She was born in the States but moved to Japan soon after and has lived in Japan for a total of 10 years. She comes from a unique cultural background having two cultures in her home. She served her mission in Tokyo, Japan and married one of the Japanese elders she served with. She currently works at the Missionary Training Center as a Native Japanese Teacher and also goes to Utah Valley University to study Mathematics Education. She has a great passion for missionary work and loves teaching people of the joy that the gospel brings. She has a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and could talk about it all day. She has a strong sense of optimism that comes through her knowledge and testimony of who God is, and her relationship with the Savior.