Today I read 1 Thessalonians 5. Paul speaks again briefly about the Second Coming and how if we are prepared then we have no need to fear and don't need to worry about when it will be because it won't matter. We will be watchful and be faithful because we will be living the Gospel of Jesus Christ to its fulness and so we will be prepared whenever it happens to occur.
This chapter also has the famous line from Paul to abstain from all appearance of evil. Very few lines in all the scriptures have see as much use as this one by parents and church leaders of all Christian religions. But I wonder how many people understand just what it means? People use it to warn their children and their charges away from bad situations. I remember once I was pondering if it would be wrong to have a female roommate in an apartment where no sexual activity took place at all, just literally roommates and I was told to avoid the appearance of evil rather than a straight answer of "that's probably not a good idea".
When I read this chapter today and came to that verse, the thought that popped into my mind was the story of the man who needs to hire a stagecoach driver to drive him over the mountain and he interviews 3 men and asks them how close they can get to the edge. The first says he can drive within 6 inches of the edge without being in danger. The second driver says he can get within 3 inches of the edge. The third replies that he has no idea because he stays as far away from the edge as possible. The third is the one that is hired and the lesson of course is you stay away from temptations. You don't ask such questions as how far can you go physically with a member of the opposite sex before you have broken the law of chastity. Rather your goal is to remain clean and stay away from the line or edge or whatever terminology you wish to use.
Abstain from all appearance of evil. I have always heard it used in the connotation to not put yourself into the path of temptation and truly that is important. There is nothing to be gained from tempting the devil and everything to lose. However, I think there is another aspect of the scripture too. Think about those that you know that are open in their sin. They have a certain look about them, they act a certain way. Most Latter-day Saints are pegged right away because we are different. But different how? Most of the time it is our speech and the way we carry ourselves that people notice. We take care to avoid the appearance of the wrongs in the world and the evil around us. We don't listen to certain kinds of music, if you can call it music. We don't watch certain movies and truth be told when I see parts of certain movies that people rave about and get all kinds of awards I just shake my head and wonder how such movies can be so popular. It's ridiculous the things that are classified as entertainment these days. Are we avoiding the appearance of evil in our entertainment? Television is really good at sneaking in worldly views and evil into our homes in seemingly innocent ways.
If we stay away from the edge completely, we have nothing to worry about. If we live our lives trying to get as far away from the edge of what is acceptable rather than bordering right up on it, then we are avoiding the appearance of evil. We need to make sure that we are taking action and not just reacting to the world. We need to take a stance and stand up for what is right and go no further. It is up to us to stand as examples for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in this life because they are not here. We need to live as they live and do as they do for a happy life. That is avoiding the appearance of evil. That is what it means to be a true disciple. Until tomorrow.