Just thought I’d post this little Public Service Announcement here in case any of my fellow Latter-day Saints needed a happy reminder (Heaven knows I need it)…
1. There are no conditions on Christ’s commandment to love thy neighbor
It’s the second great commandment: “Love thy neighbor.” Boy, how we complicate things. We tend to put all sorts of conditions on that admonition. Pretty soon it becomes, “Love thy neighbor, unless they don’t look like you, talk like you, or believe as you do.”
In case there was any confusion, Christ took things one step further:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
It doesn’t matter if they’re gay, straight, black, white, educated or not, wealthy or not, it doesn’t matter how they look, smell, dress, or talk—we’re commanded to love them. That troll in the Facebook comments, that bishop who made a huge mistake, the family member who let you down, everyone. No exceptions. Love everyone, including yourself. Speaking of which …
2. Don’t let your sins overwhelm you, Christ already paid for them
Because Christ paid for our sins, we have hope (breaking news, I know). But when you think about it, Christ wouldn’t have emptied the “bitter cup” unless He had hope, too. Hope in who? Hope in you. He has hope that you and I will take advantage of His atonement. He has hope that his suffering won’t go to waste. He’s seen your sins, He’s felt them, and He still thought you were worth dying for.
He’s seen your sins, He’s felt them, and He still thought you were worth dying for.
So, don’t get so down on yourself! If Christ can know you perfectly and still have hope, you can afford to have a little hope in yourself, too.
3. The gospel is about becoming, not doing
God is God because of who He is, not because of what He does. If He stopped being who He is, he would “cease to be God.” When we talk about “becoming like God,” we’re talking about developing God-like attributes. The whole creating worlds and populating planets stuff is secondary. God-like power is a result of God-like attributes. Developing these attributes is what the gospel is all about.
As Elder Renlund said so eloquently in General Conference:
God is not interested in His children just becoming trained and obedient ‘pets’ who will not chew on His slippers in the celestial living room. … God’s plan includes directions for us, referred to in the scriptures as commandments. These commandments are neither a whimsical set nor an arbitrary collection of imposed rules meant only to train us to be obedient. They are linked to our developing the attributes of godliness, returning to our Heavenly Father, and receiving enduring joy.
We’re not commanded to be spiritually clean because it’s on the list of requirements we have to check off in order to enter Heaven. We’re commanded to be spiritually clean because Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are spiritually clean, and we need to become like they are. Likewise, repentance isn’t about submitting a formal apology letter to corporate Heaven and hope to get it signed off by the Board. It’s about changing. It’s about becoming something new, different, and more like Christ.
4. Don’t put form over substance
The “form” is what something looks like, while the “substance” is what that something is actually worth. Somewhere inside, each of us knows that substance is more important than form. Yet, we still skim through a few verses of scripture so we can say we “read them” that day, despite the fact that we learned nothing from them. We still repeat the same morning and evening prayers, forgetting along the way who we’re talking to. We still go to church but spend more time on our phones than our testimonies.
If we are ever to become what we need to become, we can’t be the “whited sepulchres” that Christ used to describe the Pharisees, “which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Let’s make a renewed effort to get things done for the right reasons and with the right intentions.
5. Being a member of the Church isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card
This is another example of putting form (membership) over substance (your righteous character). Membership in the Church isn’t a free ticket into the Celestial Kingdom. The prophet Nephi warned very clearly:
And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.
For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.
If we don’t keep the commandments of God, we shall all likewise perish. Slap that idea on your living room wall in vinyl lettering.
6. We don’t have a monopoly on truth
Yes, we believe we belong to the restored Church of Jesus Christ. But just because we have the fullness of the gospel doesn’t mean everyone else has diddly squat.
Every religion has truth and wisdom to offer. Gospel truth is gospel truth, no matter where it comes from. We need to recognize and celebrate that fact. We have more in common with other faiths than we sometimes realize. If you don’t believe me, read the Torah Judaism’s holy book, and let me know if anything seems familiar. Then try the Qu’ran.
7. Let’s NOT view the Church through rose-colored glasses
We believe Godhead is perfect. God’s plan is perfect. The gospel is perfect. The perfection stops there. It shouldn’t, and can’t go any further, but too often we extend the perfection of the gospel onto every aspect of the Church. That’s a big no-no, not only because it’s not true, but also because it’s like lying down in front of a freight train called “FAITH CRISIS.” It also gives the world a false impression of who we are.
Critics of the Church are more than happy to point out our errors for us, though they often take things a little too far. Let us not be guilty of doing the same thing on the opposite end of the belief spectrum.
Our history and prophets are just as human as you and I. Unfortunately, fallible humans are all God has to work with, as Elder Holland pointed out. So, did Brigham Young have some pretty racist views? Gee, it sure looks that way. Was Joseph Smith’s Kirtland Safety Society a poorly executed idea? Yep. Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints still actually Christ’s church? You bet it is.