Christ goes forth among the people, some of whom worship him. I wonder about this, because I wonder about worship. We tend to assume a monotheistic notion of worship—that there is only one Being that is Almighty, and that Being is the only thing that could justify worship. We tend to get dogmatic about who worships whom and what’s appropriate. I remember it being a real issue of confusion for me when I went on my mission—both at the MTC and again in the Bible Belt where I served—is Jesus was a being we worship, or do we only worship Heavenly Father as Jesus did, and instead hold Jesus in some other attitude of reverence?
While I can remember the ways in which I settled the question in my mind then, my mind is far from settled now. The charitable side of me suspects that there is perhaps a good, a kind of attitude and its attendant grace that arises out of what I’m calling monotheistic worship. But since I don’t believe in that kind of God, and don’t hold to that sort of worship, it seems exotic to me. My less charitable side thinks it’s merely a fabrication of hyperbole—heap all hyperbole upon God and upon the appropriate attitude one might take toward God, until there is no hyperbole left, and then call that thing God and that attitude worship. It holds no grip on me.
I’m genuinely open to learning more about worship, to being led in my worship. Presently, I feel it to be an attitude of reverence (literally revering) and devotion; a grateful acknowledgment of an individual and the gifts they’ve given that pertain to salvation and exaltation; a love and adoration; an intense desire toward expressing these things; and ultimately, an intense desire toward emulation. This understanding makes worship necessarily rare (one cannot be profligate in one’s worshipping), but also quite poly-valent. I’ve no more problem worshipping Joseph Smith (which the anti-Mormons are wont to ridicule), than I do Mary (which the Protestants ridicule), than I do Jesus (which my younger self felt quite ambivalent about), than I do my Heavenly Parents—who nonetheless do hold a unique place in my heart and devotion, though on account of our relationship rather than their metaphysically sui generis status.
The rod of iron is the word of God. And it leads to the two symbols in the vision that represent the love of God. A rod is concrete, and parallels a strait path that I assume is also straight (I haven’t checked the wording this time round—does it say both?). There is one specific trajectory—toward the tree. And yet the field itself represents the world, and there are regions hither and thither, some seen, some alluded to and acknowledged as unseen. It all seems quite clear that this is one narrative, one historical trajectory. That is, for certain of our family in the world, there will be a rod, a set down, canonized, conspicuous word. I acknowledged earlier, however, that this singular rod is not necessary—Lehi needed no rod. I have to believe that others too, perhaps coming from other regions, were able to be guided by non-rods to the tree and fountain. That said, I am tremendously grateful for the words that have been given to me in my tradition—I have a reinforced rod via Restoration scripture.
The most powerful connection for me in all of this, however, is the striking fact that the point of the word of God is to lead to the love of God. This is surely the chief constraint on any scriptural hermeneutics.