Throughout history, people have had varying understandings of God and His nature. Even today, different religions paint a different image of God due to the ways they interpret scripture and the aspects of scripture they choose to focus on. Mormons—a nickname for people who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—believe that God is a kind, loving, and fair God.
Mormons consider God their literal Father in Heaven. Because He is perfect, He’s a loving Father and has all the attributes we might expect to find in a perfect parent. We had the privilege of spending time with Him before we were born. God created our spirits and then we stayed in His presence, developing our talents and personalities. We developed a personal relationship with Him, so He knows us very well. This allowed Him to make plans for our mortal lives. The Bible tells us that God knew the prophet Jeremiah before he was even born:
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).
This tells us that God had observed Jeremiah’s progress over the time he was living in this pre-mortal existence. He saw that Jeremiah had grown into such a dependable and spiritual person that even mortality would not change him, so God ordained him to be a prophet.
Because God knows us as well as He knew Jeremiah, He was able to make a plan for our time on earth. He knew exactly what each one of us needed to learn and what circumstances would best help us. Everyone came to earth with both blessings and trials. What might be a blessing for one person could be a trial for another, and so the plans had to be personalized. Our responsibility, having come here and forgotten our past, is to learn faith. We have to find God, choose to believe in Him, discover the truths He wants us to know, and choose to live them.
The plans God made for our time on Earth help us to understand how much God loves us. Justice would have required us to live a perfect, sinless life in order to return home to Him. Obviously, that is impossible. It would also be impossible for us to overcome the Fall of mankind that came about when Adam and Eve were forced out of the Garden of Eden. Because God knows us and loves us, He chose to temper justice with mercy. He sent His own son to carry out what would be an unquestionably difficult mission on Earth. Born to a mortal mother and God, Jesus Christ would serve a three-year mission teaching the gospel and organizing His church and then would atone for the sins of the world and die so we could live forever.
It can’t be an easy thing for a Father to send His Son to suffer to the extraordinary lengths Jesus Christ did in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, and yet He did, because He loves us.
Throughout Earth’s history, we’ve seen evidence of His great love. God sent prophets to guide us and show us what is truth—a way to sort truth from mere opinion. He has sent miracles from time to time to make certain God’s plan is always on track. God has given us the gift of prayer so we can go to Him directly with personal questions about truth or about our lives and choices. When we are frightened or sad, God sends the Holy Ghost to comfort us.
What About People Who Never Find God?
When you read the paragraph above about finding God during our sojourn on earth, did you wonder about the billions of people who have lived on earth, who do live on earth, and who will live on earth who never find Christ nor develop a relationship with Father in Heaven? God’s plan extends all possible blessings to them. Mormon doctrine teaches that a person must have knowledge of right and wrong to commit sin. Knowledge is necessary also to gain the blessings of the kingdom. Those who die without knowledge are not judged until they are fully taught the gospel in the “spirit world” before resurrection. Once that knowledge is presented, they can choose to follow the Savior or not. This is why Mormons perform exalting ordinances for the dead in Mormon temples, so that these ordinances, like baptism performed by proxy, may be available to those who hear the gospel in the afterlife and choose to follow it.
In every way God is a Father, loving and watchful. He gives us every opportunity to make choices that will lead us back into His presence.