Saturday, February 24, 2007

For the Tired, Rest - Part 2

[Continued from previous post] Pride will keep us from rest. Pride will keep us from admitting we can’t live all the commandments, that we never do “all we can do.” So ditch pride already and let Heavenly Father give you a present; nothing you earn, nothing you have to “be worthy” of, but rather a love gift. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you … rest.” The Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Ephesus that he and they both at one time:

were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us (made us alive) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:3b-6)

Notice its all in present or past tense, not future. And notice when God made the Ephesian people alive with Christ, when they were children of wrath, when they were dead in sins. They’d done nothing to be worthy of being made alive spiritually it was the independent act of God, an expression of mercy (not getting the punishment they deserved as children of wrath) and a flagrant act of grace – the giving of a present that is wholly undeserved, unearned and unmerited. It had to have been a humbling thing – to see themselves worthy of only wrath and instead get life, to deserve outer darkness and but instead get to sit together in heavenly places in Jesus. To sit, to rest… to realize that God no longer saw their sin, He saw His Son. After all, they were “in Christ Jesus.” Absorbed into his life, his resurrection, his atonement. Everything Christ was, they now were.


The Double Exchange

We do get to give God something for absolute forgiveness, for atonement, for rest. We get to give Him the only thing we have – our sin. All the junk that makes us unworthy, all the failed tries, all the falling short, the huge, heaping, onerous, stinking mess. We offer that to God in exchange for the perfect, absolute, holy righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ. And yes, our pride. We add our pride to the pile, like the cherry on the top of our sin sundae. It above all else must go, because the pride that says we can do something, we have to do something, is the pride that can keep us from rest. As long as we hold on to pride, we will never hold out our hands for the gift of forgiveness. The Apostle Peter talked about this as well, the exchange, because someone has to take our sin if we are going to give it away. Jesus did.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

Heavenly Father made Jesus be sin, so we could be righteous.

God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (1 Corinthians 5:21)

So, are you going to do it? Will you trade? Are you tired enough to stop clutching desperately to your pride. Are you tired enough to stop trying to make yourself worthy, to repent of all your attempts to make yourself worthy and let God make you worthy? Do you have faith that God will really do what He says – follow through on His end and actually declare you as righteous as Jesus? Then go to Him, talk to Him, humble yourself, make the trade, and rest. Once you’re worthy because Jesus has given you his worthiness, you’re free. Free to love, to serve, to give, to obey the commandments – imperfectly, inconsistently, but increasingly – not to get something, but because you’ve already got it. And when you do sin, as the Father anticipated, when you fall short, the promise and provision is there: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

So really, its not about us, or up to us to “do all in our power to qualify ourselves to be worthy.” Its done. We get to rest.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Are You Tired? Part 1 of 2

Ever feel tired? You know, worn out, the number of tasks far outweighing the amount of energy and time you have. Frustrated? Once again you didn’t get done all that needed to be done, let alone all you wanted to get done. Did you neglect your spouse, your kids, your calling? Does that make you feel unworthy? If you were truly living the gospel and relying on the Holy Ghost shouldn’t you be as successful and happy as Sister Worthier or Brother Reliable? After all, the Ensign (a monthly periodical of the Mormon Church) says,

The Holy Ghost can be a personal and constant companion to each of us. …But it can bless us only if we live worthy of its companionship. This is up to us. … we must do all in our power to qualify ourselves to be worthy of it. When we keep the commandments, our worthiness increases, and we can enjoy the blessings of the Holy Ghost.” (Ensign, July 2006, p. 66)

Does that mean the converse is true? When we fail to keep the commandments our worthiness decreases and so do the blessings? Are you ever haunted by the scripture in James 2:10, “He who keeps the whole law, yet offends in one point is guilty of all.”

Honestly, if you are like me, its rare to not have broken several commandments before lunch time. Selfishness, impatience, anger without a just cause (which the Savior said was the same as murder), pride – they’re there, in our hearts and minds, sometimes buried deep, other times bubbling to the surface. What chance then of qualifying to be worthy?

But, what if the writer of the Ensign article was wrong? What if worthiness was a gift? What if there was a way to be worthy of Heavenly Father in spite of regularly sinning, falling short, failing to do “all we can do”? What if the presence of the Holy Ghost didn’t have to be earned? What if Heavenly Father actually anticipated we would fail Him and our spouse and our kids, and therefore set up a plan that took all that into account? We don’t have to ever be without His love or presence.

How? Is it possible? Does the idea even appeal to you? Our Heavenly Father is way ahead of us on this one ... next blog.