Sunday, November 28, 2010

Like Emerson, Many Still Find Traditional Forms of Christianity Discouraging

So many people are so discouraged with historic, traditional religious models. Joseph Smith’s father was one of them. It’s interesting to put that in perspective. I remember that Emerson was one of them too—as were most of the “transcendentalists.” I am left to ask and to wonder why they didn’t find the LDS religion to be what it was and still is—so much more than the traditional Christian religious models. But they didn't seem willing to look into it in any depth--and that even though Emerson all but described the restoration blow by blow in his address to the Harvard School of Divinity in July, 1838.

And so the dissatisfaction among many sincere, well-meaning people has continued in the nearly two centuries since Emerson's questioning cry:

In how many churches, by how many prophets, tell me, is man made sensible that he is an infinite Soul; that the earth and heavens are passing into his mind; that he is drinking forever the soul of God? Where now sounds the persuasion, that by its very melody imparadises my heart, and so affirms its own origin in heaven? Where shall I hear words such as in elder ages drew men to leave all and follow, — father and mother, house and land, wife and child? Where shall I hear these august laws of moral being so pronounced, as to fill my ear, and I feel ennobled by the offer of my uttermost action and passion?

And so it is with most people, nowadays, who are willing to acknowledge the need for a spiritually oriented, spiritually-minded life. They want to only refer to truth, wisdom, sanity, serenity, honesty, peace and other such inner-life experiences in a very broad, generic, generalized, nonspecific way. It is just so “politically incorrect” to get too specific about who or what it is that one considers the highest object of our spiritual reality and quest for “the highest in us.” Most people, nowadays, think that the highest in us has nothing to do with a “Supreme Being,” or “Higher Power,” or Source of wisdom or intelligence outside our own.

And yet, it can’t be denied that it seems that any and every human being apparently has the equal ability to “conjure up” (as disbelievers would accuse believers of doing) and tap into an inner source of truth, wisdom, sanity, serenity, honesty, integrity, and peace, no matter what their religious persuasion or even if they have none at all. All they have to do, it seems are these three things: 1) desire it; 2) believe it is there to be accessed; and 3) take some action to connect with it. That can be kind of disconcerting for those who believe that their way of having a spiritual life is the only right way. It can also be frustrating to them to see others of other religious persuasions or of no persuasion at all being blessed with these gifts.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jesus Christ is God--the Eternal God--Up Close and Personal

November 27, 2010
5:30 a.m. I just read 3 Nephi 15. I opened “randomly” (TRUTH: NOTHING IS RANDOM, JUST AS THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS A COINCIDENCE.)

I just opened (TRUTH: WAS GIVEN/LED/INVITED TO OPEN) to this chapter and therein was reminded/remembered (AS IN REJOINED) that Jesus Christ is the law and the light, and that it is in looking unto Him that I will be empowered and led in His way so that I may do even as He has done–endure to the end of my mission in this world. I am invited to remember Him always that I may have His Spirit to be with me.

He, even Jesus Christ, is the one who covenanted (TRUTH: CONVERSED WITH, COUNSELED, COMMANDED) Israel, and now He has entered into this veiled existence that we experience as “mortality,” and has revealed Himself to all who will have ears to hear and eyes to see and a heart to understand. This is the God who gave the “law of Moses,” because the people in Moses day would not have their God speak directly to them. And now, here is that same God, come down from the mountain so to speak, come through the veil from the realms of eternal glory. This is the ultimate meaning of the “Good Shepherd,” who has come into the darkness of the wilderness–even the jungle of morality–that He might find us and rescue us. And you can be sure He will rescue us–all of us–without exception, with only one condition: if we will let Him.

And how do I “let Him”? I surrender myself to Him. I seek Him above and before I seek anyone else. I learn of Him (both about Him and most especially from Him.) I read what others have said about Him, I receive and listen to what they testify He has said to them. I take the leap of faith in Him that it takes to believe that He is the same today as “back then,” and that He seeks after me just as tenderly and persistently as He seeks after anyone–and I let myself hear Him in the stillest, smallest, tenderest, most kind (meek and mild) train of thought that enters into my mind. He is the Christ. The Holy Son of God. And He is come for me. Yes, of course–for everyone else too. But you see, as true as that is, it has no power to save me. Only if I am willing to embrace the truth that He has come for me–especially, personally, singularly for me, can I find the faith in Him that will motivate me to seek Him and trust Him and cleave to Him as a drowning child. Unless I am willing to become His child–the child of Christ (Mosiah 5), I will inherit, instead whatever lesser reality I am comfortable with and willing to enjoy See D&C 88:32.)

I am willing to enjoy coming unto Christ, today. I am willing to acknowledge no greater gift than Him. There is no other person that means more to me in all the history of the world, in all the history of my unfolding life story than Jesus Christ. None. Not father, mother, brother, sister, husband or children. None. They are all secondary to the amount of significance Jesus Christ holds in my life.

My Father in Heaven has given me to His Son and I am tired of being ashamed or afraid to say that out loud. That is the fire in my soul that I have been living in and trying to understand and own–all the while trying not to enjoy Him too much, lest I upset others who think that I am boasting of myself. But, I am not boasting of myself, but of God. I’m not saying I’m that good. I’m trying to testify of how good He is. And if telling you just how weak and mortal and imperfect and not-worthy I am–and yet how much He loves me and rescues me from myself at every opportunity I give Him–then I will include as much of my weakness in my story as you can stand to hear. I want nothing more than to testify that He is this kind and this patient and this loving and this willing to labor with even the weakest, even the least. I know, because I am one of them–the weakest and the least. And in 20 years of being aware of Him in this way, I have never known Him to fail to take me back as often as I turn back to Him and cry out for His mercy and His deliverance.

Today, I am willing to testify of Him as I know Him and let others know Him however they need to know Him, from whatever distance they need to stay from Him. I need Him just as up close and personal as possible. So much so that I have the feeling that in and through the Holy Spirit I am as one with Him–that I am “in Him,” and He is “in me.” Nothing less than that degree of trust in His goodness and His offer to save me–one hour at a time this whole day through, one day at a time for whatever time I have left on planet earth–is enough to keep the Liar’s legions at bay.
I need Him every hour–up close and personal–as one. And so, I hold nothing back from Him. Nothing. I give away (disclose) to Him all of my sins (feelings, thoughts, words and deeds of separation from Him.) This is the presiding train of thought in my mind all day–no matter what other activites or relationships I participate in outwardly during my day.

This is not a casual, half-hearted degree of need and of surrender to “always remember Him.” It is most literally the only life-line, the only defense, the only hope I have left.

There is a line in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, that just came back to my mind. It is part AA’s founding testimony: “Either God is everything or He is nothing.”

Here’s the full quote: “We had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be?”

This is when you know you have finally come to your last bottom: When you know this is the only question you have left to answer–and you life hangs upon your answer. When you know you must either get this up close and personal with Jesus Christ or refuse rescue and die in your sins (a state of separation from God.)

I will no longer be ashamed of my “good conversations in Christ.” (1 Peter 3:16.) I bear this testimony of Him and His living reality revealed to me due to His merits and none of my own, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.