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Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the graduation ceremony for the UC Berkeley school of Molecular and Cell Biology. The invited speaker was Dr. Bruce Ames, a noted scientist, who for decades has produced ground breaking work in genetics and how various substances impact our health at the molecular level. Dr. Ames provided a concise review of his most recent research into nutrition. According to his research, there are 40 micro-nutrients that are essential for our health and continued existence. Remove any of these 40 substances from our diet and we will weaken and die. His research points to the damage at the cellular level that occurs when any of these nutrients are missing.

He also noted that the body, when confronted with a deficiency of one of these critical nutrients, would direct its application to areas that benefit short-term performance while other body functions are deprived. This restriction leads to cellular damage that presages diseases like cancer. He cited statistics suggesting that a significant percentage of the population is deficient in some of these necessary nutrients. More information is available on Dr. Ames’ website: www.bruceames.org.

As I pondered the words of this esteemed scientist, I was struck by the thought that this idea could just as easily be applied to our spiritual health. Are there micro-nutrients that are necessary for our spiritual health? Do we, by ignoring the consumption of the proper spiritual foods, weaken our faith and set the stage for damage induced spiritual death?

Dr. Ames assailed the ‘modern’ foods made to look attractive in our day such as carbonated sugar water that contains no meaningful value and represents ‘empty calories.’ Are there activities or rituals in which we engage that represent no meaningful spiritual value yet consume a significant component of our faith diet? What represents the empty calories in our spiritual diet as a ‘soda pop saint?’

As I look around me, I see many members who are busily engaged in various activities such as home teaching, genealogy, and fulfilling their callings. While these activities can be perceived as worthwhile, do they represent the equivalent of ‘empty calories’ in a spiritual sense? Yes, it is important that we strengthen one another and perform activities that support the greater good of the congregation, but what do these activities to do our own spiritual metabolism? Are we feeding our spiritual selves the necessary nutritional elements through these activities? In many cases, I think not.

What are the essential nutrients for a healthy spirit?

First, we must seek to understand what the gospel is and apply it in our lives. I believe these nutrients are found in places like 3 Nephi, chapter 27 and D&C 33:11-12. It is not enough to simply recite that faith, repentance, baptism by water, and the sanctification through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is sufficient. One must dig deeply into the meaning and substance of these spiritual concepts. We must ingest these concepts and make them available to every segment of our spirituality.

Second, we must strive to comprehend the mysteries of God. We read the following from Alma, chapter 12:

[9] And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

[10] And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

[11] And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

 What else is spiritual death than the ‘chains of hell?’ One should continually strive for the essential nutrients found in the mysteries of God if they are to avoid the spiritual destruction cited in this scripture.

A great example of a mystery is, in my opinion, found in Alma 40: 3:

Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know — that is concerning the resurrection.

 

The mystery that Alma then began to expound upon, the resurrection, isn’t normally considered a mystery of God. It was to Alma. How many spiritual concepts that we take for granted are truly mysteries inside? The mysteries of God are obtained through the application of diligent study and prayer. This same Alma speaks of his efforts in Alma 5:46:

Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

Our spiritual health depends on our continual acquisition of the essential spiritual nutrients. We must continually strive to feed our spirits, not with the empty calories of the works of man but of the bounty of the wisdom of God bestowed through the Holy Ghost

We ‘modern day Mormons’ seem to be starving our spiritual side by filling them with empty calories. The rich feast of the knowledge and wisdom of God awaits them who diligently seek these principles and strive to ingest the mysteries.

What think ye?

2 Responses to “Spiritual Nutrition”

  • It is a very inspiring article for us members. To continue our life here on earth, we have to be supplied with every micro-nutrients to be incorporated in our diets to keep our body healthy and nourished. Same as we like to nourish our body, we should also nourish our spirituality. How can we do that? Attending church every Sunday is not enough, we should nourish it with the precious words of God coming from the scriptures especially the Book of Mormon that contains the fullness of the gospel. Spiritual life is far more important than our life here on earth. To sustain this we should always be spiritually nourished by the words of God.

  • Andrew,
    Thanks for your comments.

    I have come to a similar perspective regarding church attendance. For me, attending church is like eating junk food full of empty calories; void of all but a few of the critical components to fuel our spiritual well being.

    Based on the scriptures, I have also come to a different definition of the ‘word of God.’ If you look up the ‘word of God’ in the index of the Book of Mormon, you will find the first reference is to 1 Nephi 2:3. This is the description of the dream of Lehi which prompts him to take his family into the wilderness. Later in the same chapter, in verse 13, we find reference to the ‘words of the prophets,’ speaking of the scriptures. To me, this draws a clear distinction between the ‘word of God’ meaning personal revelation and the words of the prophets meaning the recorded scriptures. So I agree with you that the word of God is critical to our spiritual nutrition.

    In regards to the fulness of the gospel, I would add that the Joseph Smith – History gives us more information about where to find it in the scriptures. In verse 34, Moroni told Joseph Smith ‘that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in [the Book of Mormon], as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.’ I take this to mean we can find the fulness of the gospel in the description of the Savior’s visit to the Nephites found in 3rd Nephi. Even more directly, the gospel, in its fulness, is defined in the 27th chapter of 3 Nephi. This concise exposition if the fulness of the gospel stands in stark contrast to the broad definition of the term used by most members.

    Christ draws all men to Him that they may wash their garments in His blood and be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that they may stand spotless before Him at the last day. In my opinion, the fulness of the gospel contains the idea that the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is necessary for a remission of our sins as described in the 31st chapter of 2 Nephi.

    Nephi describes this second baptism as the gate to the strait and narrow path to eternal life (verse 18). This remission of our sins is the beginning point of our walk on the strait and narrow, not the culmination of a good life.

    Sorry to get verbose. I believe that there are few members who have sought to know what the gospel, according to the scriptures, really is.

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