Why is it so much easier for the natural man to worship things it can see?
Laman and Lemuel were humiliated by Nephi’s admonition in the wilderness:
“And now I, Nephi, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, therefore I spake unto them, saying, yea, even unto Laman and unto Lemuel: Behold ye are mine elder brethren, and how is it that ye are so hard in your hearts, and so blind in your minds, that ye have need that I, your younger brother, should speak unto you, yea, and set an example for you?” (1 Nephi 7:8)
So they tied him up and left him to be eaten by beasts. Pleading from their future in-laws softened their hearts. They recognized that what they had done was wrong. So what did they do first? They bowed before Nephi to seek his forgiveness.
“And it came to pass that they were sorrowful, because of their wickedness, insomuch that they did bow down before me, and did plead with me that I would forgive them of the thing that they had done against me.” (1 Nephi 7:20)
As a righteous servant of the Lord, Nephi immediately redirected their “worship” back to God:
“And it came to pass that I did frankly forgive them all that they had done, and I did exhort them that they would pray unto the Lord their God for forgiveness. And it came to pass that they did so. And after they had done praying unto the Lord we did again travel on our journey towards the tent of our father.” (1 Nephi 7:21)
It is no wonder, then, why the Lord so specifically counsels against worshipping Church leaders–even worthy ones. When in a humble state, the natural man more readily reaches out for help from a higher source. The problem is, without faith, that source typically takes the form of something it can see with its own eyes.
We, for the most part, completely trust our sense of vision. We use phrases like “seeing is believing.” We say “Oh, I see” to mean “Oh, now I understand” because to us, once we see something, we immediately comprehend it; we grant legitimacy to things for which we have visual confirmation.
The problem is, trusting our vision is highly unwarranted. Most people have no idea we have two blind spots in our vision whenever our eyes are open. Our natural man brain continuously creates a visual fiction that fills in those blind spots. One psychologist asserts that our brains do this to make us comfortable. What other gaps in our understanding does the natural man brain fill in for us to make us comfortable? Try everything we don’t understand. Think of how unsettling an unfamiliar sound is when you’re home alone at night. Your mind races until you come up with some sort of plausible explanation. Is that any different from when your mind races to address existential questions: Can’t see God? Don’t know if He’s there or if He cares? Unsettled by the noise of the world while far away from Him? Ignorant of or unwilling to do what is required to draw close to Him yourself? The natural man brain has an answer for you: Find something you can see and trust it instead. Ah yes, now you can relax again.
There are many things to look at. What we see depends on the direction in which we face. Consider this thought on “facing” from the author of my favorite blog:
“Don‘t trouble yourself, unless it motivates you to change. Repentance means change. Repentance actually means you turn from the direction you are facing. Whatever direction you are facing, turn from that direction, and face God. When you turn to God and face Him and let Him be the object of your focus and your attention, then you have repented. ‘Facing’ your job, or your favorite sports team, or your religious hobby, or even your church leaders is not the same thing as facing God.”
Face God. Ask Him to increase your faith. I don’t think you can even do it yourself. Ask Him to help you soften (humble) your heart. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. Look to God and live.