Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Moment to Ponder the Things of Eternity

I haven't blogged for a while; this month has been exceptionally busy. I know, and that makes me different than everyone else because . . . .?

I have had something I've been thinking about all week, however, that I meant to post sooner. It is still sitting in my head so I think I need to get it out. Last Sunday in Relief Society we talked about the sacrament. I don't really remember the details, but I had a really powerful thought while it was taught.

I think the Sacrament, as taught in the the church, is a perfect blend of mercy and justice. I have been to other churches were the sacrament, or communion, is pompous and overblown with high language and elaborate ceremony. There is such a heavy emphasis on death and the sin deeply inherent in each of us that mercy is almost strangled right out of the experience. On the other hand, I have been to churches where the sacrament is overlooked completely in exchange for loud music and feel-good talks about being forgiven: once we have confessed the Lord we are good to go even if we keep making lots of mistakes. There is such heavy emphasis on mercy that the justice of God is mocked.

The irony is that the underlying (false) doctrine in these two opposed practices is actually the same. The idea that man is so sinful he cannot change. In the more "traditional" churches this idea is practically beaten into parishoners until they feel so low that God scares them to death; in the more "modern" churches this idea is used to excuse every disgusting behavior. God knows how we are! Just try again next week--no worries! Adherents don't feel low, in fact, they feel so high that they could never do anything wrong again, no matter how bad their true actions are.

But in the true church we say that the commandments are important. Vitally important. Without eventually learning to keep them in every respect, and discipline every un-Godlike action, thought and deed we cannot have the life that God has. On the other hand, we recognize that this expectation is HARD, and nobody can achieve perfection now. So, in the meantime, as long as we approach God in sincerity, desiring to change our hearts, he allows us to yoke our burdens to the Savior so that we might feel, in quiet moments, the feeling of perfection, no matter how fleeting it is. This momentary glimpse of eternity gives us the hope and faith to keep trying even when it is hard.

The LDS sacrament with its emphasis on trying to remember the Savior's atonement while striving to be like him in every respect achieves the perfect balance between justice and mercy. Will works or mercy save us? The religions of the world and the wise men of theology can argue it until they are blue in the face. The truth is that both are needed. It is the only approach that allows us to understand the scriptures or to begin to understand our Father's personality. And how vital it is to try and see things from God's perspective. Didn't Jesus himself say, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee; the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent."
How grateful I am for a God who provided a way for us to learn from our mistakes without being eternally punished for them. And how grateful I am to our Elder Brother who agreed that he would be the one. In the war in Heaven He stepped up with the best idea, the idea He knew was in keeping with the prinicples of eternity and the priesthood, but He had a better grip than any of us on how hard it would be. So to make it fair He did the only thing that could make it all work--he agreed to live perfectly and then be killed for it. By saving himself first with his perfect obedience he could then save all of us.

Sorry for the preaching to the choir. I am sure most of you have probably thought this through start to finish before and I'm the one behind the eight ball. It is just so easy to get caught up in the day to day triviality of our life that we forget what we are working and fighting so hard to become . . . to help our children become. May we all smile a little brighter this week for the knowledge of the Savior's love. His love for me, a stressed out teacher with too many students and not enough hours in the day. For my children in their glorious, struggling innocence. For my husband who is worried about finishing his graduation requirements and finding a job while trying to be a full-time dad. And for you. Whatever your difficulty may be this week, this month, this year, He suffered for your pain too. Take it to His feet and together you will work on a way to find relief.


Anonymous said...

What wonderful thoughts to ponder on. Just as the subject itself was about a perfect blend of justice and mercy, the post was a perfect blend of exhortation and reminder, and yet it made me feel good and not exhausted or guilty or sadly insufficient. Way to strike the balance!

Messimoo said...

Very well put and nice to read! Thanks for the uplifting thoughts! said...

I really enjoyed your thoughts. The other week when I was taking the Sacrament I was thinking about how sad it is that every week there is something to repent of and how we "eat a piece" of the Savior like that. It made me feel sad for being so weak. Then I thought of how important it is for us to continually come unto Christ and recognize his role in our salvation. It can be hard to remember that he suffered for us all no matter how big or small the mistake and we have the opportunity to be forgiven when we rely on Him completely. That there is joy for Him and our Father in Heaven when we utilize the Atonement.

That makes sense in my head, I hope it does here too.

forecast calls for rain said...

So amazing. You've made it so clearly understandable. You need to move to Texas again and be my personal Relief Society Teacher, (and celebrate holdiays too:)!!. Thanks for this refreshing blog.

PATRICIA said...

I was preparing my lesson for Sunday School 16 year olds today about the atonement. I was thinking about how I could make it personal to them and give them a reason to ponder it. I came across your blog - I feel I was led to it. Your indepth ideas will hopefully help me make an impression on these teenagers, and have them understand the depth of the gift we have been given - and their responsibilty in accepting it.