18 And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record, from the beginning of the world until this time, and from this time henceforth and forever.
(1 Nephi 12:18)
In his vision, Nephi sees two corrupting influences which keep people from experiencing the love of God. The first is the temptations of the devil, which are represented by mists of darkness. The second is “the vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men” which is represented by a large building, floating in the air. The building is filled with people dressed in fine clothing, who are mocking a group of humble people eating the fruit of the tree of life nearby (1 Nephi 8:26-27).
It is so much easier to criticize and belittle than to create and build. But that fact is not always evident to the critic. So the people in the building operate under the illusion that they are more capable, more sophisticated, and more powerful than their counterparts beside the tree. The fallacy in their worldview will eventually become evident. Nephi tells us that, in the end, “the great and spacious building…fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great” (1 Nephi 11:36). But for now, they appear to have the upper hand.
Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President offered the following warning just over a year ago:
I am often asked, “What is the greatest challenge our youth face today?” I answer that I believe it is the ever-present influence of the “great and spacious building” in their lives. If the Book of Mormon was written specifically for our day, then surely we cannot miss the relevance for all of us of the messages in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life and the effect of those pointing their fingers and taunting from the great and spacious building….
Whether we were born into it or had to fight our way through mists of darkness to find it, we have tasted of this fruit, which “is most precious and most desirable” and has the potential to bring us eternal life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God.” We need only to keep feasting and not heed those who would make fun of our beliefs or those who delight to create doubts or those who find fault with Church leaders and doctrine. It is a choice we make daily—to choose faith over doubt (“Do I Believe?,” General Conference, April 2016).
Today, I will choose faith over doubt. I will not allow critics to shake my confidence, no matter how confident they may be in their position. I will avoid being distracted by the “vain imaginations and the pride” of people who are more interested in tearing down than building up and who are themselves standing on an unstable foundation.