Pendulums of the Penitent: Part 1, Amulek

pendulumThe Book of Alma can be seen as a primer for the penitent. True, there are the foils of forgiveness like Nehor, Amlici, Korihor, and Amalakiah. These men exuded evil and refused the repeated invitations to return to familiar paths they knew would bring them happiness. But this book devotes much more space to the stories of those who could have easily chosen a similar villainous way but instead opted to return to the plain and simple truths that eventually resulted in each of them rediscovering the joys of righteousness.

Two such heroes who exemplify the courage to change were Amulek and Zeezrom. What we see in their stories is the pendulum of two extremes. Amulek is the archetype of those who stray for a time because of a casual relationship with God. While Zeezrom represents the fleeting satisfaction that comes from education and power that, for a time,  can so easily trump the simplicity of divine truths.

Amulek was likely one of the early inhabitants of the city of Ammonihah. As with any new endeavor, settling and establishing a new city was a challenge. At first, these pioneers relied heavily on God. But, as with many in our time, their success was their undoing.

prosperityAs the city thrived, these founding fathers saw their rising prosperity as the direct result of their own ingenuity and less a blessing from God. The more they felt empowered, the less time they devoted to God. Gradually, their pride drove a wedge between them and God.

Satan knew it would be folly to be obvious in his temptations. People who are genuinely good but who carelessly let their relationship with God become casual can too easily reform and avoid actions that would widen the wedge Satan was driving between them and God. So, Satan sought subtlety. One such step on this slippery slope Satan uses to seduce these good people is hypersensitivity.

offendedMy guess is that as Amulek’s relationship with God became more casual, he was less impervious to the mortality of others. Soon Amulek found the cauldron of constant chaos that can thrive in our community just as it did in his, became too oppressive. He tired of facing the risk of someone saying or doing something unkind or hurtful. Because Amulek was no longer rooted firmly in the gospel, he was more prone to allow the reality of mortality to negatively impact his personal devotion to God. He forgot that discipleship enhances patience enabling us to endure those who intentionally or unintentionally spitefully misuse us.

Luckily for Amulek, he had the courage to accept Alma’s invitation to return to gospel basics. Once buttressed by a closer relationship with God, Amulek was able to overcome the sensitivity that kept him from tapping into God’s richest blessings. We, too, can avoid this trap that ensnared Amulek by doing the small and simple things, such as regular scripture reading, prayer and church attendance. Such things are the key to endure inequality.

But what about Zeezrom?

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