"There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah"
2 Nephi 2:8 (The Book of Mormon)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Choose to Receive!!!

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have heard many times from friends not of my faith, that mine is a religion which focuses too much on "doing" and not enough on "being".  This is a valid concern, which I am grateful that loved ones have shared so freely with me.  It is my hope today, to share with you my understanding of the companionship principles of "doing" and "becoming".

I believe that God calls His essential list of "dos" and "don'ts" Commandments, not suggestions, for a reason.  He knows that a life dedicated to this discipline, is one filled with joy and freedom from unnecessary bondage and misery.  In addition, Christ teaches,
"If ye love me, keep my commandments."

Obedience is a demonstration of love for our Father in Heaven.


Towards the end of Christ's mortal ministry, He pronounced woes upon the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  They did so many of the right things (i.e. tithed, fasted, prayed) for the completely wrong reasons.  In the 23rd chapter of Matthew, Christ condemns them saying,
5- All their works they do for to be seen of men
13- Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
  
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ invites us to do our alms in secret and not for the glory of men, affirming that our "Father, which seeth in secret, Himself shall reward thee openly".  From this we learn that the action, while essential, is merely a fraction of what He is looking for.  His focus is on the heart or the motivation behind our actions.  Do we do the right things so that others will think that God is first and foremost in our lives?  OR do we do the right things because God IS first and foremost in our lives?  It is possible to do all of the right things and still have your heart removed far from Him.

As a Latter-day Saint it is my life's purpose to learn of my Savior and to give my best effort in patterning my walk after His.  Ultimately, through His grace and mercy, I hope to one day become like Him.  This requires that I not only strive to follow what He did, but that I seek His grace in developing the internal virtue that motivated His actions.  As I study the life of the Savior, it becomes more clear that everything He did was motivated by LoveLove of His Father... and Love for each of us.

 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Here's the beautiful thing!  As we demonstrate our love for God through obedience, we choose to be in His presence and receive His love.  As we experience His love and goodness... our nature's are gradually changed and we become filled with His love.  This in turn springs up obedience from a  more sincere place.  It is a continual cycle which turns deeper and deeper into our souls.  God's love is unconditional but our ability to receive His love is not.  Receiving His love and goodness is a moment to moment choice.  As we make the effort, as flawed as it may be, His grace carries us the distance!

5 comments:

  1. Doing and being, it is a great concept. Some time ago I recognized that for a person learning to play basketball, they have to learn all the rules, how to dribble, how to shoot, how to pass, etc. With lots of hours of practice they gradually shift from doing basketball to being basketball. Eventually a player no longer has to think about the game, they are the game.

    Similarly, as we begin our Christian walk we are doers of the word, as we integrate the principles into our daily living and our heart gradually changes, the law gradually becomes dead and we gradually become alive in Christ (But as I think about it, God must always be a doer of the word. i.e. he must always be a doer of honesty. There will never be a time when he can stop doing honesty.). This gradual process will eventually lead to our heart being fully alive in Christ, and we will be as He is . . . this occurs not because of anything we do of ourselves, other than we do have to give Him our heart, all of it. Further, for most of us anyway, this process of being fully alive in Christ will occur sometime after this life. Today is a constant effort of learning, and doing, and in some respects, being. So, this life is a time for doing, growing, developing, and in some things being.

    Yet we have much to repent of in this life, and through the grace of Christ, we can be forgiven.

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  2. Thank you so much Dad! Your words are so true. If we profess to accept Christ as our Savior and then fail to engage in the action of following Him, we are hypocrites. Giving our best effort to model Him and continually seeking His grace as we fall short is where the "becoming" happens. The process of doing which leads to becoming... and becoming which leads to doing is truly divine. Thank you for your insight!!!

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  3. I love your insight with this concept, Carey. I have also heard comments said about our faith that we are very hard on ourselves & focus on perfection. While this is true, it is not without reason. It may seem to others that we are aiming for perfection (which we will never achieve here in this life) but I feel what we are really trying to do is follow Christ's footsteps in being the best we can be. 100% perfection is not in our reach now, but we can be perfect to some degree with particular things. Good thing we know we are not perfect, and can never be perfect, without the Perfect One to fill in where we lack. What a wonderful message! Thank you.

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  4. Okay Carey...forgive me once again as I'm behind on your posts, but I had to add some food for thought on this one! It is in my humble opinion as someone with a different faith, that this comment about your faith is based more on what I see as "rules not found in the bible". For example...drinking coffee, wearing special undergarments (sorry I don't know the correct word - not trying to be disrespectful), having to be married in the temple, etc... I view these things as ceremonies or rules that don't actually have any effect on your salvation and don't mean your are disobeying God or any of his commands if you do or don't do them. I have to say that I agree with you 100% that God's "lists" are commandments and NOT suggestions. And that although salvation is a free gift it is very important that after we receive it we take action and follow Christ by imitating Him just as He commanded. I fear that some Latter Day Saints might believe their salvation is tied to what clothes they wear of what liquids they drink and for me that is a sad life under the "law" rather than living in the freedom that Christ gives you. Christ never gives you the freedom to sin (disobey a commandment) but the freedom to live outside of the law (circumcision, eating certain foods, no longer sacrificing animals etc.). If you tie your salvation to rituals, clothing or drinks than you take away what Jesus did on the cross. The only way to heaven is not by works but by faith in Jesus, and even when I sin and disobey a command God is always there with open arms as I have a repentant heart and turn once again towards Him. And that's my two cents...hopefully without offending anyone! (-: As always I love you and love the conversation you create!

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  5. See my response to these questions at http://mywalkwiththesavior.blogspot.com/2011/10/answers-for-questions-part-1.html

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