Imagine on the grounds of your ward house there are numerous fruit laden gospel trees where you can pick all the fruit you want to nourish yourself spiritually. The easily accessible lower hanging fruit provide basic blessings from the organization of the church. Those who partake of the lower hanging fruit are blessed with a ward family. Good people to mingle with and share in the blessings of music and gospel teachings that make them better people. Each one of the lower hanging fruit has a label indicating it is Terrestrial Fruit.
However, the more spiritually nourishing gospel fruit is on the higher branches. This fruit is labeled Celestial Fruit. Picking fruit from the higher branches requires more dedication and effort. The higher hanging fruit provides spiritual nourishment that results in greater manifestations of the Holy Ghost. Why? Because church members picking higher hanging fruit are exercising great faith in Jesus Christ. Those who partake of the higher hanging fruit have their prayers answered more readily and experience more abundantly the gifts of the Spirit that flow from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Church members casually engaged in their discipleship prefer to pick from the lower hanging fruit. They have some things in common with Amulek. Amulek described his casual engagement in Book of Mormon parlance:
“…I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know…” (Alma 10:6).
Todays, apostles and prophets invite church members who are casually engaged to turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart. In October 2005, General Conference Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf contrasted the higher hanging fruit from the lower hanging fruit:
“The Church, with all its organizational structure and programs, offers many important activities for its members aimed at helping families and individuals to serve God and each other. Sometimes, however, it can appear that these programs and activities are closer to the center of our heart and soul than the core doctrines and principles of the gospel. Procedures, programs, policies, and patterns of organization are helpful for our spiritual progress here on earth, but let’s not forget that they are subject to change.
In contrast, the core of the gospel—the doctrine and the principles—will never change. Living according to the basic gospel principles will bring power, strength, and spiritual self-reliance into the lives of all Latter-day Saints.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard in April 1996 General Conference urged church members to seek for higher blessings:
“We must have personal, spiritual experiences to anchor us. These come through seeking them in the same intense, single-minded way that a hungry person seeks food.”
President Russell M. Nelson admonished men to seek for priesthood power in April 2016 General Conference. He is referring to men who attend church but are not seeking for the higher hanging fruit.
“Recently, Wendy and I were in a meeting where the organist was poised and ready to play the opening hymn. His eyes were on the music, and his fingers were on the keys. He began pressing the keys, but there was no sound. I whispered to Wendy, “He has no power.” I reasoned that something had stopped the flow of electrical power to that organ.
Well, brethren, in like manner, I fear that there are too many men who have been given the authority of the priesthood but who lack priesthood power because the flow of power has been blocked by sins such as laziness, dishonesty, pride, immorality, or preoccupation with things of the world.
I fear that there are too many priesthood bearers who have done little or nothing to develop their ability to access the powers of heaven. I worry about all who are impure in their thoughts, feelings, or actions or who demean their wives or children, thereby cutting off priesthood power.”
President Nelson didn’t mince words. He diagnosed the problem with plainness of language, explaining why too many priesthood holders lack power in the priesthood.
Here’s his list:
Preoccupation with things of the world
Impure thoughts, feelings, actions
Demean their wives or children
President Nelson continues with a sobering prophecy.
“I urgently plead with each one of us to live up to our privileges as bearers of the priesthood. In a coming day, only those men who have taken their priesthood seriously, by diligently seeking to be taught by the Lord Himself, will be able to bless, guide, protect, strengthen, and heal others. Only a man who has paid the price for priesthood power will be able to bring miracles to those he loves and keep his marriage and family safe, now and throughout eternity.”
Certainly, there are many in your ward who are partaking of the higher hanging fruit. If there are any who feel they need to lengthen their reach to pick the higher hanging fruit and are unsure about how to do so, the Lord has agents in each ward that can help. Bishops, and various priesthood and sister leaders and teachers are available to help. All church members are invited to deepen their discipleship by focusing their attention an effort on obtaining the higher hanging fruit. The Savior said, “blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost (3 Nephi 12:6).”