Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Perfect Sacrifice

All of mankind, every last one of us, are sinners. We all fall short of our best, no matter what our best is. God The Father knew this when He created us, but He also knew that we needed the chance to be born on earth and have the experience of mortal life. At the same time, no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God, and we needed some way to become clean despite our inevitable sins.

The Father created a plan for a Savior to sacrifice for all of us, so that we may all have the opportunity to repent of our sins. The Book of Mormon teaches that this Savior's sacrifice needed to be a "great and last sacrifice," and that it must also be "infinite and eternal." Jesus, The Son, then volunteered to come to earth and be the Savior called for in God's plan, which we call the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness. He offered Himself as the infinite and eternal sacrifice.

In what ways was His sacrifice infinite and eternal? If one is going to pay for the sins of all of humanity that has ever lived, every last one of our sins, then the sacrifice must be infinite to be able to cover everyone; it must be eternal in order to span all of humanity's existence.

He was the Son of God. The Savior was born of Mary, but His father is The Father of us all. As such, He was not subject to death as the rest of us are. He has power over death, just as He has power over nature, sickness, and really all things. He is eternal, and therefore His sacrifice is eternal.

Before anaesthesia worked as well as it does today, it was common practice to restrain the patient for painful procedures. Most of us cannot prevent ourselves from fighting back against pain, even if we know we need the operation done. What bands could've held our Lord's power for Him to submit to whipping, scorn, and utter humiliation? Even worse, to suffer all this at the hands of pathetic men revelling in the power of ruling a subdued nation. His sacrifice was infinite in humility: He had power over every soldier and ruler and could've exercized it as easily as over the fig tree, yet He chose to submit.

He was perfect. He never fell short in any way. This is almost incomprehensible. Of all of the things we do every day, how many can we do perfectly? I think I'm now perfect at getting my right shoe on my right foot. I think I'm really good at washing my hands, but I don't think I'm 100% perfect at it. Our Savior lived a perfect life. I've never lived a perfect day. His sacrifice was infinite and eternal because He was completely innocent and He was sacrificed for us, the guilty. The only man ever to achieve mind-bogglingly impossible perfection willingly suffered and died for us, despite the fact that we do not deserve it.

I do not understand how our Savior paid for all of our sins. I don't understand how it is possible for Him to take upon Himself all of our guilt and also all of our pains and sufferings. I cannot comprehend how He can do this for me, let alone for everyone. However, I know that it is true. I know that He bridges the infinite gap between our sinful mortality and the eternal glory of God.

Monday, August 18, 2014

All Is Not Lost

A week ago today the news spread that Robin Williams died; he committed suicide, at least partially because he suffered from depression. This was shocking news to many of his fans and has lead to a lot of media coverage and commentaries both on suicide and mental illness. Hopefully, at least some of this coverage may help anyone suffering similarly to know they aren't alone and help them become aware of some of the resources available to help those contemplating taking their own lives.

Those who have had friends and or loved ones that end their own lives know how tragic it is. Death is very difficult to accept, and attempting to understand why our loved one would seek his or her own life makes it even harder to comprehend. Feelings of guilt, questioning why I didn't see it coming or if I could've stopped it often can creep into the minds of those who loved the person the most. It can seem that there is no way out of the emotional pit those left behind have fallen into.

I want to say that all is not lost. Through Christ, all is never lost. It can seem that someone who commits suicide has died in the midst of a terrible sin, and one might be tempted to judge that this person must be lost forever; however, the Church doesn't teach it this way:

It is wrong to take a life, including one’s own. However, a person who commits suicide may not be responsible for his or her acts. Only God can judge such a matter. -The Handbook on Administering the Church
I am grateful for this wise council on an extremely difficult and emotional matter; we might think that because we knew someone so well that we know what was going on in their heads, but we don't. I feel liberated to know that a Loving God can sort out the hearts and minds of those whose burdens are indeed heavy. I know that Christ loves and knows all of us, and my faith tells me that even the most wounded among us may not be beyond His help.

Many things seem like they will never work out - for a time. Many trials feel like they are too heavy to bare - for a time. If anyone is considering ending their own life, please seek immediate help in every way possible; the link I just posted has a 24/7 hotline as well as an option to chat. If anyone is suffering because of a loved one who chose this path, I repeat my thesis: all is not lost. The Atonement is infinite and eternal. Christ, through His sacrifice and selflessness, gained an infinite and eternal ability to help and bless others; He is after the one who suffers in the wilderness.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Overcome all things"

In Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 we have a description of those who will be exalted in the Celestial Kingdom. The description says that these "overcome by faith" and later says: "And they shall overcome all things."

For those unfamiliar, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches about more than just heaven and hell. We call hell "outer-darkness" and believe that only those who know Christ and wilfully rebel against Him will be sent there; all the rest go to a kingdom of glory in heaven: the Telestial, Terrestrial, or Celestial Kingdom, which correspond to the stars, the moon, or the sun respectively. The Celestial Kingdom has the glory of the sun and is where we all hope to go.

These phrases teach us a bit about how we can get there and what blessings we will enjoy should we get there. If we get there, it means we overcame by faith in this life. In other words, we rely on the Lord to get through the trials we face here. A few differences between simply overcoming and overcoming by faith might be:

- Humility in recognizing we need the Lord's blessing and are delivered by His mercy.
- Greater patience while we wait for a trial to pass.
- A willingness to submit to the Lord's will.
- Obedience to the Lord's commandments even in difficulty.
   - Such obedience is a sign of abiding faith.

We are also promised that if we are going to the Celestial Kingdom we will overcome all things. This promise seems great beyond comparison and comprehension. Imagine staring at your greatest insecurity in the mirror without the slightest twinge of inadequacy. How about knowing that your worst fears can have no power over you? This is just the beginning of the deep peace of overcoming all things through faith.

I know that God would have us be strong and empowered through His Son. It is true that if we come unto Christ He will show us our weakness, but none who follow Christ will be laid low. Instead, they shall "mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)