“Be ye separate”.

The title is from Alma in his sermon of self-examination.

Why does God ask us to leave loved ones behind? Because our eternal welfare is more important to Him than our human relationships—even with family. He wants us forever. But we have to choose Him and have to choose to follow His ways. ALL of His ways. And sometimes people we love can make that so difficult it is better for us to remove ourselves from the situation.

As I recently read about God warning Nephi to take his family and depart from his murderous brothers Laman and Lemuel, I thought about the numerous times before this point when Nephi’s older brothers had nearly killed him and times that their violent natures and murderous hearts were manifest. They beat him and his other brother with a rod. They tied Nephi up with the intent of leaving him to be devoured by wild animals. They sought to kill their father. They tried to drown Nephi. They tied him up on their voyage and left him that way for days.

These previous experiences showed clearly that God was capable of delivering Nephi from his brothers. He survived all those years traveling and living with these murderous men so it shows that God was capable of protecting him. So why did God end up telling Nephi to leave them behind?

I don’t know, but an idea that struck me is that had Nephi and his children continued to live with Laman and Lemuel and their families, the negative influence of those relatives could have made it more difficult for Nephi’s posterity to keep their covenants.

Anyone who has lived in an inactive family or with family members who aren’t members of the church can relate. Its difficult to be active and obedient when its only you striving to do so. Its even more difficult when your efforts are being mocked or sabotaged.

God doesn’t always tell those striving to be faithful to Him to leave their families or friends who are living a disobedient lifestyle. But sometimes He does, for reasons only He fully knows. But being He is God, I trust His judgment.

Nephi wasn’t the only person asked to do this—to place themselves away from the spiritually destructive influence of family members and friends. Abraham was given the same commandment.

Moses was commanded to lead the Children of Israel away from Egypt’s false influences. And church history is full of men and women who heeded the call to come to Zion although it meant being disowned by their families.

Followers of God as a whole are not commanded at this time to separate themselves from the world as they were at times in the past. We are told to leaven to raise the world through our influence and obedience. But some may be (and are) asked to separate themselves from close-proximity negative influence and people and situations that cause doubt and confusion or diminish their faith and their ability to fully keep their covenants.

Some find themselves in the situation of loved ones who are being volatile towards their beliefs, dragging down their faith, and making it more difficult to follow the prophet. Despite the pain and sorrow it may bring, those individuals may need to separate themselves from that family member or create firm boundaries and rules for the relationship. Like Nephi, Abraham, and Moses, God will guide them if their situation necessitates that.

God loves His children. Our eternal welfare and progress is His number 1 goal. Some of us have to pass through heartbreaking trials in this temporary life. But God promises that sorrow and mourning shall flee away and we will experience everlasting joy if we keep our covenants and choose Him.

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