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Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Be ye therefore perfect"

In His teachings to the people during the Sermon on the Mount, Christ admonishes the people to "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). What a daunting task! How are we as human beings supposed to be perfect? Even more, how could we possibly hope to attain the level of perfection of our Father in Heaven? A closer look at the translation of this verse gives some insight and comfort. The word translated to "perfect" in the English translation of the Bible is actually τέλειος (téleios) in the Greek, which means "complete" (www.blueletterbible.org). So, Christ is not telling us that He expects us never to sin, make a mistake, or mess up. What He is saying is that we must be whole and complete in our growth and progression. In this section, Christ also gives us the "beatitudes," which can be thought of as a list of spiritual steps to repentance. We must be humble and teachable, recognize our wrongs and feel sorrow for them, desire to become better, forgive ourselves and others, teach righteousness to other people, and be willing to stand up for what is right no matter what persecution may follow. There are also ordinances (spiritual acts that we do to symbolize a promise with God) that we must receive in order to become whole. Christ showed us the example as He was baptized and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was free of sin and did not need to be cleansed, like we are when we are baptized. So, there must be some other reason that baptism is a requirement besides just the cleansing effect it has. The ordinances of the gospel signify promises and commitments we make with God and they allow us to be fully prepared to meet Him someday. This gives me a lot of comfort to know. I am certainly not perfect in the sense of never doing anything wrong. But, that is not what the Lord asks of us anyways. He knows that we make mistakes. He accepts that we have weaknesses and wants to help us improve. What He wants from us is commitment and earnest effort to change. By following His commandments and laws and receiving the proper ordinances of the gospel, we will be able to achieve completeness like God asks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Look up!

This week, we learned a lot about the beginning of Christ's life and His preparation for His mortal ministry. My instructor shared an interpretation of part of Luke 2 that really clicked with me and I would like to share it with you all. In Luke 2:41-52, we read about when Christ and His family traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover when he was 12 years old. After spending their time there, the family packs up and leaves. Jesus stays behind, unbeknownst to Joseph and Mary. After a day of traveling, they finally realize that Jesus is not present in the group. They first go to their other family members who are with them to see if anyone knows where to find Jesus. Nobody does. Then, they go back to Jerusalem and seek for Him in the city. After three unsuccessful days looking in the streets of Jerusalem, they find Him in the temple of God. When Joseph and Mary ask why He has done this, Jesus responds, "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49).

Joseph and Mary were seeking for Jesus, just as all of us do. Sure, not everyone may claim a belief in Jesus Christ, but we all seek for what He brought to the world. We all seek for peace, love, happiness, acceptance, and a better life. Whether we know it or not, we need what He can bring to our lives. We need to be cleansed, to be forgiven, to be strengthened, and to be saved. But Joseph and Mary didn't find Christ in their search around the city, in the worldly places created by man. They ultimately found Him in the temple, the house of God. This is where we too will find Christ. As we seek out the good things in life -- church, scripture reading, selfless service, love, eternal families -- this is where we find Christ. And as we seek these things, we gradually improve. Just as Christ did, we too will increase "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (v. 52). When we put sacred things at the center of our lives, we become smarter, stronger, and more spiritual. We have better relationships with others, including our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that it is easy to get distracted in this world. But, I testify that as we seek after the good things of God, we will find peace and happiness.


Friday, September 4, 2015

"Remember Who You Are"

So, I haven't posted too much on the blog recently...but I've decided to start it up again! I am taking a New Testament class at BYU and will be posting my thoughts about our reading weekly here! :)

There is one question that all of us has pondered or will eventually confront at some point in our lives. It is the question of our identity, or in other words, "Who am I?" We yearn to know our purpose, our potential, and how to direct our lives. In the scriptures, these questions are answered in powerful ways. In the LDS version of the scriptures, in Moses chapter 1, we read of Moses' interactions with God and with Satan. We learn that God has a body that is glorified and perfected; we learn that He is infinite and almighty (v. 2-3). He tells Moses, "...I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease. / Wherefore, no man can behold all my works..." (v. 4-5). The expanse of God's creations are so vast that we are not capable of seeing or comprehending them all. Yet, He is personally and perfectly aware of each and every one of us. He repeatedly refers to Moses as "my son" and tells him "...this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (v. 39). I find it incredible that the almighty, infinitely powerful and glorious God of the universe finds His purpose in helping us -- the weak, imperfect, small creatures He created -- to become better and ultimately to receive eternal life in His presence. As children of God, we have a limitless potential to become like Him. Satan, however, is stuck. Because of the decisions he has made, he cannot progress or reach any higher potential. Therefore, he will do everything in his power to lead us astray and tempt us to choose the same fate. He lies to us about our worth, striving to drag our self-esteem down and demotivate us from reaching our noble dreams and goals. He flashes doubts and fears past us and makes us question our potential, our capabilities, and even our own identity. He wants us to feel like we cannot and will not grow and improve, when in all reality we are infinitely capable of this with God's help. I know that each of us has an individual mission here on this Earth. God has sent us here to learn, grow, make mistakes and improve. He wants us to feel His love and be motivated by it. No matter where we're at or where we've been, it is never too late to get better.