Throughout my life, the name Jesus Christ
has always carried great weight. Sacred and deeply personal, I have always viewed Jesus as the ultimate example-- even if, being human, my actions sometimes speak otherwise. It continually stuns me that a being as supremely perfect as the Savior
would give an imperfect wretch like myself the time of day. And that he does the same for everyone who has ever lived, is living, and will live.
The love of Jesus is one free of condition. Free of judgement, not based on physical appeal, station in life, or even personality. His perfect love is based only on the fact that we are all daughters and sons of God. His teachings show time and time again the importance of loving others:1st John 4:7-8 "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Romans 13:8 "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have alove one to another."
My savior Jesus Christ, in his infinite love, endured unfathomable pain in the Garden of Gethsemane on my behalf. On all our behalf. To do so for one person would show great love, but to do so for all
is something else entirely. The love shown by our Savior in his atoning sacrifice and indeed throughout is ministry and eternal existence fills my heart with the warmest gratitude for Him, and a desire to emulate such love for my fellow man, as He no doubt desires me to. I close in His name, Jesus Christ-- Amen
The name Joseph Smith
inspires an entire possible spectrum of emotions from those who have heard it before. While many revere and love the things he accomplished, there are others who view him as either a deceived fool or an ingenious deceiver of others. It is safe to say that he is one of the most controversial figures of the nineteenth century.
But all of this considered, I'd say Joseph Smith and his legacy have had a profound impact on my life. As a boy I was taught the stories of his life: his encounter with God and Jesus Christ at age fourteen, the visitation of an angel named Moroni, who led him to a set of golden plates inscribed with the record of ancient Jews in America. As a kid, I never doubted this. Why should I? It was what I was taught from an early age, alongside the stories of the Bible.
These cherished beliefs were taken for granted. It was just part of me, as much the part of me that knew the sky was blue. But as anyone who has ever grown up knows, age brings with it some degree of cynicism. The sunny world of our childhood, if we let it, can become the oppressive regime of our teen years. Of course, I never felt "oppressed" by my religion. But, as everyone does, I began to analyze the world around me with more scrutiny. In my formative late teens, I was confronted with all manners of challenges to my faith, which ironically seem to shape my faith today.
As I became a man, I felt the need to discover myself, to (much like Joseph Smith had) really figure out what I believed. This involved much study, much prayer, and faith that my Lord would answer these prayers. I think the problem most people run into with this is that they expect their answer to be all at once, a sweeping glorious experience of faith-affirming revelation. This can happen, but is frequently untrue. My testimony-building experience has been, and still is, gradual. Isaiah
's timeless words ring true in my life: "But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little..." (Isaiah 28:13)
The abundance of material out there that purports to "disprove" Joseph Smith and his claims does not bother me, because my study and prayer has led my to a different conclusion: that Joseph Smith did not, and could not churn out a pseudo-religious novel as complex as the Book of Mormon
. My study and prayer has confirmed in my mind that, though imperfect, this man was a prophet ordained of God, who truly saw what he said he saw, and instructed by God to restore the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth once more.
Joseph Smith, his legacy of faith, and his love for Jesus Christ have compelled me, changed me even. I am ever grateful that in 1820, he knelt in a grove of trees, and asked his Father for clarity, and eternally grateful that his prayer was answered when he witnessed God the Father and Jesus Christ. I love this gospel with all my heart, and am grateful for it every day.I'll close in the name of Jesus Christ-- Amen.
Since I was a little boy, I have read, and reread the Book of Mormon
. When I was little, I had no idea that not everyone held this book in the same esteem as the Bible. They had always gone together for me. So much so that I remember watching a show on TV as a five-year-old, when one character mentioned the Bible. I remember thinking to myself,"...And the Book of Mormon." Even though I was taught to include everyone, and regularly had play-dates with non-Mormon friends, it wasn't until I was a little older that I realized not everyone on earth was a Mormon, or even Christian
(and a little older to realize that not all Christians were Mormons). I was taught from an early age by my parents, that everyone, no matter the circumstances, deserved love, that we were all brothers and sisters. Though, being human, I could not do this every time. I have, however, always tried to some degree.
As the years went on, and my innocence began to fade somewhat, I slowly came to grips with the fact that the world was not as sunny and bright as I thought it was. I also realized that not everybody thought that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) was as wonderful as I did. I was shocked to learn that some even hated
it. As I processed this information, I contented myself with the knowledge that everyone has their own viewpoint, and they had the right to choose that view. One of my best friends in grade school was not a member of the Church, and had had some bad experiences with it. After a couple years of friendship, he told me about how the missionaries had visited his family and one of his sisters was considering baptism, but was turned off by the pushiness of the missionaries, who kept asking her to set a date. That experience, seemed to shape his opinion of the Book of Mormon, and the LDS Church as a whole. We stayed friends for many years and I we didn't really broach the subject much. When we did talk religion, we both did our best to be respectful, but I could tell he was a bit cynical of the whole thing, which I didn't mind too much. I mostly labeled the subject as a "sore spot", something we ought not get into. We eventually drifted slowly apart, our lives taking different detours and both of us finding different groups of friends. We hung out on and off, but it eventually tapered off. We still occasionally say hello every now and again, and reminisce about the "good old days", but those encounters are far and few between.
Throughout middle school and high school, I kept the Book of Mormon on my nightstand, reading a verse or two before going to sleep. In those days, I knew on some level that it was a special book, but the words seemed so stale. My teenage brain just couldn't concentrate on the "thees" and "thous" for longer than about a minute before putting it down. The thing was, I was a great reader from an early age, but I didn't have the patience for long, archaically written books. I couldn't relate. At the time I was only reading to form a habit of study.
Sadly, it wasn't until recently that I truly started to study
the Book of Mormon. A few months ago, as I became a Missionary, I realized, that if I wanted to truly understand this book, I would have to read it more actively, not just skim a couple token verses and drift off to sleep. My study has become more in depth, I pray before each reading session, and sit at a desk, taking notes. Since I've incorporated this beautiful book (in conjunction with the Bible) I have noticed a difference in my life. I feel a deep love for my fellow man. I have more of a desire to share this beautiful Gospel with others. I wish I had discovered the Book of Mormon's real power sooner. I have always had a fondness for it on some level, even if I found it boring, but for the first time, I really understand the sweetness of its words and have more of an inclination to act upon its teachings. I hope in the future I can be more willing to share it with those who want it, those who need
I hope that, if you haven't, you can also experience what this book has to offer. I offer you these humble words in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ