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Monday, July 6, 2015

Oh It Is Wonderful, Wonderful to Me

"Oh it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me.  Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me."

That's what the gospel of Jesus Christ is, a wonderful, joyful gospel of peace, made possible by the Man after whom it is named.

Contrast, I have said before that it is an effective teacher and a sharp reminder of the condition of our lives and the world around us. There's a crazy amount of evil and good in the world and sometimes our trials are there for us to help us appreciate what we have because, as has been said by many, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

We are encouraged in the word of God, by Paul specifically, that "...the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ..." In this entry, I mentioned how we have been given the ability by God to either allow our difficulties to make us or break us, dependent on how tightly we cling to our Savior.  The reason I bring this us again is because, despite all the garbage going on in the world today, the gospel of Christ is still meant to be, above all, a gospel of peace, wonder, protection and joy!  The Lord Himself, while teaching the Nephites, said "Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full."

I have heard a few examples, recently, of people who, for whatever reason, felt they were just too tired of trying to live the gospel as perfectly as they thought they were supposed to and left the church.  From the limited information I received in these cases, it seems to me that all of them were missing one crucial thing about the gospel that can, admittedly, be easy to forget it we are not careful. While there are many warnings and commandments spelled out the gospel, the whole point of it in the first place is to provide us with the joyful news of deliverance or protection from our burdens and/or strengthening, changing, cleansing power we receive from our loving Redeemer through His Atonement. Abinadi may have spent a few chapters teaching gloom and doom that comes naturally as a part of sin, but he spends much more energy teaching the butterflies and rainbows part of the gospel.

King Benjamin, as well, may have spent some time warning of the consequences of sin, he was sure to follow it up with "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."

These men were doing the same thing prophets today are doing.  They are encouraging us to rejoice!  They are urging us to look for the good, to allow ourselves to be filled with the everlasting gratitude and joy of the love of our Savior, manifest in His everlasting sacrifice for us. It should fill us with unspeakable happiness that He paid such a price, overcoming sin and death so He could have us back with Him and our Eternal Father and know Them as our family.  The entirety of John 17 is replete with expressions to the Father of His love for Him and for us, including this statement: "these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves."

Moroni, not wanting to just leave us at the end of the Book of Mormon with the awful scene of destruction which lay before him, started the last chapter with: "Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good".  I almost feel like it was sort of a sigh of relief for him, which is, honestly, one more thing the Jesus' gospel should mean for us, relief from the weight of our burdens, relief from the sting of death through resurrection and eternal peace in our hearts, possible through the Holy Ghost, because of Christ.

Look at what the Nephites said regarding the words spoken by the risen Lord to His Father in their presence: "And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father."

One last example. It's a quote by Elder Heber C. Kimball: "I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when I have His Spirit." This is just one more reason why the Lord would declare "men are that they might have joy".

I am happy in the gospel of Christ.  Yes, I am aware of how terrible things are around the world.  I am aware of the corruption, lust, hate and selfishness that fills many hearts of men on earth. I understand the pivotal importance of being educated as to what is going on in the world, whether it is pleasant or not. I know that happiness is a hard thing for many to achieve, whether they have the gospel or not. But being aware of these things does not mean they need to rule our minds and hearts.  The biggest blessing of the gospel is that, because of Jesus Christ, we need not be trapped or miserable, no matter the amount of difficulty around us.  We have a constant immeasurable source of joy before us in our Redeemer, the resurrected Lord, even Jesus Christ.

*edit Feb 2017*
As Tad R. Callister said: "No matter how lost the world at large may be, no matter how depraved or degenerate it may become, there is yet a bright light of hope for those individuals who have a faith in Christ.  Those who focus on him and his atoning sacrifice, who let these glorious truths rest in their minds continually, will find that Christ's power to lift the human soul transcends even the weightiest burdens the world may thrust upon them.  There is a certain spiritual buoyancy that attends a study of, and reflection, upon, the Atonement."
-Tad R. Callister ( The Infinite Atonement pg. 209)