In the vision of the tree of life that Lehi and Nephi witnessed, a “great and spacious building,” prominently juxtaposed the righteous seeking to find their way to the tree of life.
The tree had a path and an iron rod, everything you needed to get there if you really wanted to. You just had to hold to the rod and keep moving, and anyone could get there.
The building, on the other hand, was less accessible, “it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” (vs.26) There was no clear path to get there, and those inside were too busy pointing their fingers and mocking to help others get where they were.
While the elite sat in their privileged positions, many perished down beneath them, and they didn’t even seem to notice.
And [Lehi] also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building. And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads.1 Nephi 8:31-32
It is really sobering how accurately this scene fits with the world we see today.
There are relatively few seeking to keep the commandments of God while the privileged and elite clothed in what they perceive as woke and progressive ideologies point the finger of scorn and mock incessantly.
Some hear their ideologies and are convinced to let go of the word of God and feel their way toward that crowd. Sadly, many that follow have no iron rod, no support or guide, and they drown in filthy water or become lost in very strange roads.
While the tree offers fruit or food, and the fountains of living water offer drink, the great and spacious building offers nothing but meaningless outward spectacle. The great and spacious building has nothing to offer, it is all a show with no substance whatsoever.
The tree offers reconciliation with God, but those in the building seek to exalt themselves by how much distance they can put between themselves and those below. This building and everything it stands for is pride.
C.S. Lewis nails it in Mere Christianity:
Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.
The great and spacious building doesn’t have a rod of iron because while they welcome the company of other like-minded souls who justify their pride, they certainly don’t want everyone there.
They must have the context of themselves far above and others far below.
Just as faith must have an object – something one draws toward, pride must also have an object – something one draws away from.