25 Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men—
26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.
(2 Nephi 27:25-26, Isaiah 29:13-14)
In the passage above, the Lord sees a problem among His people, and then identifies what He intends to do about it. As I think about this passage and the subsequent verses, I’m struck by the love and kindness of our Heavenly Father toward His children. Here’s my summary:
- Problem – God sees a group of people who claim to follow Him but who aren’t truly committed. Furthermore, their worship is corrupted by some false beliefs.
- Solution – God will perform miracles among these people, so that they will recognize His preeminence and abandon the worldly ideas they currently believe.
That sounds to me like the discipline of a loving Father. In contrast with some of the earlier chapters, where proud people had to be brought down by force because they would not humble themselves, this sounds like very gentle discipline to me. These people say they believe, but they are misguided in some of their beliefs and half-hearted in their commitment. The Lord’s response is not to punish them but to teach them: to give them experiences which provide evidence of His power and which debunk the myths they foolishly cling to. Those experiences give them the opportunity to step up and become the people they claim to be.
I love the Lord’s response in part because it is so hopeful: it conveys such optimism. At the end of the chapter, Isaiah tells us that, as a result of this work, “They…that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine” (2 Nephi 27:35, Isaiah 29:24). Once again, I’m impressed that both the people who were simply misguided and the people who were a bit rebellious will be reformed by seeing the effect of God’s works in their lives.
Today, I will be grateful for the evidence of God’s hand in my life. I will be grateful that He is a loving Father who corrects His children gently when they are capable of responding to gentle correction. As a leader and as a parent, I will remember that correction doesn’t always have to be stern or painful. Teaching correct principles and showing how those principles work may be all that is needed to help some people get back on track.