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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Jesus Christ = Charity

I did think for a while about making this last in my series of five entries about the Savior centered on mercy, but the topic I chose, as well as the entry on rescue, includes both mercy and justice. So for this final entry in the series

Jesus Christ = Charity.

This subject is, to quote Jack R. Christiansen put it, "so vast, so wonderful, so great, so deep, so glorious, so far beyond me..." that I am going to need help addressing it, so I will be going about this in the most prayerful manner I can.  Charity - by scriptural definition, the pure love of Christ - is a subject so all-encompassing, infinite, powerful and, in it fullness, beyond our comprehension that it's no wonder Moses said "mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him."

Christ possess, as the scriptures define Charity, "The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love..."  It is infinite in capacity, power, purity and, therefore, the phrase "love makes the world go 'round" is, in every sense of the word, completely true.  The reason the elements of the universe obey God and His Only Begotten Son is because of the love they possess for everything they create, including and especially us.  Nephi brilliantly illustrates this with the following testimony of Christ, "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation."

His love for us is even manifest in our trials and difficulties.  My dad once put it this way to me.  He told me that God trust us with our trials.  Yes, in our weakened, fallen, impossibly helpless condition as mortals, He trusts us with our trials.  Why?  Well, considering that God's comprehension and understanding of each of us and our lives is perfect, I believe that He actually tailors our trials to match our personalities, circumstances, talents and even our weaknesses and character flaws.  How else could everything He does be "for the benefit of the world"?

I love the scene in Evan Almighty where "God" says to Evan's wife "If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient?  If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous?  If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"  The answer to each of these, I think, is obvious.  He gives us chances, as many as we need, to change and become more like His Son, our perfect, loving example.

In an earlier entry, I don't remember which, I outlined how essential agency is, how important it is that our choices be completely and totally our own, with just the right amount of influence from all sides of any choice we have to make.  I'm glad that Heavenly Father and His Son have the love, understanding and foresight to engineer our lives so that we have the opportunity to make the choice to either follow the Savior's example or not.  Because of Christ, it is the choice to follow Him and come to know Him, if made purely by our own free will, that will change us to become like Him and, therefore, result in eternal life with our Father and a fullness of joy in this life and the next.

This is yet another way that Christ shows His love for us, by respecting us enough to allow us to make our own choices, even if those choices hurt us or others.  That's why He suffered for our sins, our hurt, our heartache, our weaknesses and all other negative factors of mortality, yet another sign of His love for us.

Of course, I might just be able to go on forever talking about the ways Christ shows His and God's love for us.  Everything from modern prophets, scriptures, priesthood, and the Holy Ghost, to missionaries, temples, revelation, sacrament, families, and the Atonement of Christ.

I was at a dentist appointment this afternoon and the hygienist and I got into a short conversation about music and piano.  I mentioned that any other instrument is easier to learn after learning piano than it would be otherwise because the theory of piano is inclusive of the general theory of every other instrument.  I make this observation because it relates to a quote by President Monson in April of 2014, "...love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”—a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love."

Charity, the pure love of Christ, encompasses every other virtue, gospel principle and truth in all of life and eternity, including rescue, power, potential and victory.  No wonder Moroni said "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." Paul echoes Moroni's message with his own, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

To finalize why I chose charity, and to emphasize as much as possible what Jesus Christ means to me in this last of five entries in this series, I suggest to the reader the motto below, especially the third part of it.

Obedience is the price,
Faith is the power,
Love is the motive,
The Spirit is the key,
Christ is the reason.

This entry emphasizes the third line in that, that in order to feel the Christ's love, see His hand, understand His gospel, know Him, and become like him, "[w]e need to choose to change our desires to be the same as His".

So if there's one thing that Jesus Christ means to me that really does encompass everything else that He is to me, it's Charity, His pure, celestial, total, flawless, perfect, complete, just, merciful, intimate, constant, unfailing, personal, profuse, unlimited, unhesitant, untainted, all-powerful, eternal, parental, Godly love (I'm sure there are other adjectives I missed there).  God's plan for us, centered on Jesus Christ, works because of love, because of this charity.  I know that is the way He feels about us.  He always has and He always will.

I bear my witness of this, charging the angels of God in Heaven to bear record that all who read this may have it indisputably clear in their minds that I bore witness to them of these truths and I do it in the name of Jesus Christ amen.