Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Contrast of Faith and Power

Jehovah and Lucifer

A Study in Faith

Christ shows perfect faith from the beginning. By submitting to His father’s will and giving Him the glory, Christ gained infinitely more than He would have otherwise; in fact, He gained all things, infinity in eternity. By letting go and detaching Himself from the process, He was able to bring about the state He promises us in these latter days: “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly: then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (Doctrine & Covenants 121:45-46, emphasis added).

Lucifer shows no faith whatsoever. Instead of patiently, detachedly allowing it to come to him, he attempted to force the issue and compel people to do what he wants them to do. There is nothing everlasting in a dominion based on fear, but given that Satan has no faith, and given that fear is the opposite of faith, his entire kingdom is transitory and ephemeral. In an absolute absence of charity and with no virtue in his thinking, Satan has no confidence whatsoever in the presence of God and no understanding at all of the doctrines. With no claim on the Holy Ghost and the infinite intelligence the Spirit makes available to us, Lucifer must by definition live in fear, darkness and with no real, lasting power. By attempting to grasp power by force, he denies himself the possibility of infinite power, the power enjoyed by the great Jehovah, Jesus Christ, and all those who become joint heirs with Him in His Father’s kingdom.

Thus Lucifer traps himself in a device of his own making. Were he, even now, to submit to the Father, he could find power and faith far beyond what he can only intellectualize, but he cannot, because of his need and desire to compel, and because of his utter lack of faith and love.

As we open ourselves to charity, the pure love of Christ, and to virtue, or excellence and righteousness, we choose a life that brings us greater power without compulsion, and everlasting growth and increase. As we follow in the footsteps of our Savior and Lord, and submit our will to His, we become like Him. At that time, with Him, as promised, we can possess everlasting joy and dominion.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Power of Thankfulness

Gratitude is Love and Faith

Misery is lonely; gratitude is shared. In my life I have known both. At times, misery has nearly overwhelmed me and overcome me. Gratitude feels better.

Gratitude focuses outward away from the self, from the ego. Misery focuses inwardly. Where we place our focus absorbs the nourishing nutrition of our concentrated attention. Misery begets misery gratitude begets more gratitude. Our focus can make either thrive and flourish.

As we give thanks to our Father and to our fellow human beings, our gratitude in all things increases. A dearth of things to be thankful for does not negate the importance of gratitude. In fact, since gratitude creates greater gratitude, when we feel little gratitude that is precisely the time we should seek reasons to be thankful. By looking around and giving thanks for little things, we increase our gratitude naturally.

Gratitude is, in reality, an act of faith. Standing at the entrance of the tomb of His friend, Lazarus, our Lord Jesus Christ “…lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me…And when he thus had spoken he cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:41, 43). Christ, the greatest of all, felt moved to give thanks to His Father for the power to bring His friend back to life. Clearly Lazarus came back to life in an act of faith; the gratitude of our Lord in advance of the miracle was likewise an act of faith.

Thus we see that gratitude is both a manifestation of faith and a strengthener of faith. Thus we also see that faith and love, being nearly one in substance, require a focus away from ourselves toward others. As we focus away from ourselves, we no longer perceive our misery, much less suffer from it.

As we focus away from ourselves, away from our pain, we find joy in the gratitude we now feel. Upon this earth and within the cosmos that a loving God created as a means of sharing with His beloved children a fullness of joy, there is much to be grateful for. The very act of focus away from the self toward God and His service to His children is a leap of faith. A fullness of faith brings a fullness of joy in perfect love.

Our Lord explained the process very well. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose hi life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24; cf. also Mark 8:35, Matthew 10:39, JSTT Mathew 10:34).

(Although Modern English barely distinguishes a difference between “will” and “shall,” it is no accident that the King James translators alternate the two verbs. “Will” indicates intent or purpose – we still see that in other forms of this root: “I am willing to go…,” “it is my will…” “Shall” indicates action. In this verse, the implication is that the person that wants (take action) to save his life is going to lose it. The person that is willing to lose hi life for Christ and His gospel is going to save it.)

A leap of faith presupposes a certain level of faith already existent. A person who might feel frustrated by a sense of inadequacy due to a weakness of faith should remember and implement two fundamental actions:

  1. Pray for love and faith as Mormon advised: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ…” (Moroni 7:48). As we grow in love, we grow in faith.
  2. Take seriously the Lord’s injunction to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17, I Timothy 2:8), vocally as well as in your heart (Doctrine & Covenants 136:28). Our expression of gratitude in prayer creates spiritual awareness in which we observe and witness the power and the goodness of God. That alone increases our faith.

The result of gratitude is joy. Because of the faith and love that, by nature, accompany gratitude, and because of the recognition of the love and the goodness of God that gratitude gives us, the very act of giving thanks to God or to any of His creations becomes a planting of a seed that will take root and produce a fruit that is “most precious, which is sweet about all that is sweet, and white above all that is white…and pure above all that is pure” (Alma 32:42).

Our thinking about the goodness we enjoy as children of a loving Heavenly Father increases faith and in increases joy. After all, the verbs “think” and “thank” come ultimately from the same historic root. A simple task, giving continual thanks, being thoughtful about what is good, will nearly imperceptibly bring us closer to God and His spirit, as well as provide us strength in faith unto salvation and eternal life.