Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Great and Magnificent Gift: Redemption

Any of my readers (I think I might be getting close to 10 now, give or take 5:) will know that I've made numerous posts already concerning religion. I guess you can take that as fair warning that I'm going to be writing on the subject again.

Many look upon religion as a code for moral conduct. Well, I certainly see that as an important aspect of religion. I highly appreciate and value individuals who live congruently with their beliefs, regardless of the faith they subscribe to. That is a quality I look for and even long for in a leader. Religion should make us better people. Any religion that does so to me is valuable and should be honored. This characteristic of providing moral conduct and the betterment of mankind was an important motivation for the founders of this nation to ensure and protect the freedom of religion. They were well aware that in order to be a free people, we needed to be a moral people. I therefore will stand up and defend the right of any person to practice their religion Christian, Jew, Muslim, Budhist, etc. so long as their belief system does not lead to harming others.

While I appreciate and defend any faith that betters the lives of its followers I have recently been reminded of the importance of standing up for my own faith. I guess you can take that as fair warning that I'm going to be talking about my own faith :)

80+% of this nation profess a belief in Jesus Christ. I therefore want to highlight Christianity and make a case for living this precious faith to its fullest. One of my favorite historical political leaders is William Wilberforce of the U.K. He made a point to call upon his fellow citizens and fellow Christians to renew their faith and to practice "Real Christianity." I highly recommend his book by that name. It is an excellent reminder to me of the need to examine my own life and ask if I am truly living my beliefs. I think others may benefit from the same.

Any good religion will help its followers to reform their lives in a way that makes them better. Christianity offers an additional key component for even greater benefit, a far greater gift than a code of moral conduct alone, Christ offers redemption. God is a just God. He will follow every law He establishes. No unclean thing can be in His presence. Therefore any sin in a person would disallow them from returning to His presence. God is also merciful. Mercy and justice are both satisfied in the sacrifice of the only perfect being ever to grace this earth. He answered the ends of the law and offered mercy to all of us who will receive it. His magnificent gift of redemption is for all. So, though Christianity does offer a code of moral conduct, and though Christ indeed was a great teacher, at the heart of Christianity lies Christ Himself, and His Atonement wrought so that mankind may be redeemed.

We are a nation whose vast majority claims to believe in Christ. We believe in His teachings. We should believe and follow His instructions for us. His Atonement has infinite capacity. Volumes have been and could continue indefinitely to be written and not contain all that He through His Atonement has offered for us. Humbly I would like to submit just a few thoughts on Redemption and in particular the healing that comes with it.

During His ministry Christ performed many miracles, the majority of which involved healings. In speaking of His ministry there are two things I want to point out. First though His lifetime was a ministration, His ministry beginning with the miracles of turning water to wine on through His death upon the cross spanned approximately three years. That meant in a mere three years He had to demonstrate to the world who He was, and what His role in our lives is. To show that He is the Healer required miracles of instant healing. I believe that can and does happen today. However, we must know that in the midst of the healing process, if we trust in Him, He will turn the process for maximum benefit to us. At times, often in fact, that means the process takes longer. Trust in His ability to sanctify our trials for our benefit. Trust that as you turn to Him you are in the healing process, but it might not be instant. Secondly His physical healings manifest also His capacity to heal us emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I will discuss this aspect in more detail.

The Book of Mormon is an account of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent and their dealings with God, just as the Bible details ancient Israel and surrounding areas. It contains the record of Christ's visit to the Americas in what I consider one of the most beautiful books in all of Scriptures, 3rd Nephi. Christ tells the people that they are the "other sheep" spoken of in John in the New Testament. At one point Christ invites all those who are suffering from any affliction to come and be healed. He provides a list of various ailments that serve as a nice list to discuss not only physical healing, but also emotional, mental and spiritual. He says to them:

Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you;

Christ had told the people previously "repent of your sins and be converted, that I may heal you." Thus, healing accompanies repentance, and is a part of redemption.

He heals the lame, those who experience that something just is not working right in their body or their life. He offers the healing power to overcome those defects. He heals the blind, those who have difficulty seeing, again whether that be physical or if that means not knowing what direction to go, needing the light that He offers. He heals the halt, those whose progression has ceased for whatever variety of reasons, He offers the way forward in His pathways of righteousness and peace. He heals the maimed, those who at one time felt whole but now whether by some other's hand or by their own mistakes are injured, He can make you whole again. He heals the leprous, the hallmark of which is uncleanness, He offers His ultimate cleansing power. He heals the withered (from the Spanish translation I learned this refers to atrophy), those that have been weakened by the circumstances of life including inactivity, He offers His strength. He heals the deaf, those who have struggled to hear, He opens the ears and hearts to truth. And finally He acknowledges that any affliction can be healed at His hand.

So, why am I discussing this? Well, it is probably obvious but I feel that this nation needs to turn back to God, not just for a moral compass, though that indeed is important, but also for healing redemption. I have felt the reality of His healing in my own life. I, like any earthly inhabitant, am a perpetual screw-up. I need redemption, and so do all of us. How amazingly merciful and glorious is the reality that that gift can be ours if only we receive. It is there for all of us, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. That great and magnificent gift is real, come unto Him, repent, be healed and be redeemed.

I testify that Jesus is the Christ and Redeemer and Healer. There is a way back to wholeness. It is there in His loving arms. As we find our way back to Him we will be received, not as a stranger, not as a guest, but like a child at home.

No comments: