(Continued from last week…)
I repeat, where are our passionate testimonies of Christ? Where is the abundance of our heartfelt expressions of gratitude for Him? How often does He find a place in our own private thoughts and personal conversations with trusted friends and family?
ARE WE CHRISTIANS?
So many of us Latter-day Saints are offended when we hear the Christian community say that Mormons are not Christians. Well, if some Christians were to visit our congregations on Sunday, and sit in on any of our meetings, would our lessons, our talks, our comments, our conversations convince them otherwise?
MANY THINGS…MOST IMPORTANT THING
Now, perhaps in our defense, there really are so many different doctrines and truths we could discuss. For instance: the premortal existence; the creation; the fall of man; the necessity for baptism; the gift of the Holy Ghost; the Abrahamic covenant; the great apostasy; the Restoration of the Gospel, as well as the authority of the priesthood through the Prophet Joseph Smith; the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; additional modern-day scripture; healings, miracles, visions, and other gifts of the Spirit; the return of Elijah the prophet with the sealing powers; the holy temples; eternal marriage and families; the spirit world; family history work; baptisms for the dead; missionary work; the doctrines and reasons for sexual purity; the Word of Wisdom; the law of tithing and other offerings; fasting; the Sabbath day; the Relief Society; the purposes of home and visiting teaching; welfare and care for the poor; food and water storage as well as 72-hour kits; family home evening; patriarchal blessings; the doctrine of translated beings; the gathering of the House of Israel; the return of the Ten Tribes; the millennium; Zion; the resurrection of all mankind; the final judgment; the three degrees of glory; and on and on and on…there are so many things to talk about in a Church of continuing revelation. And yet, if we reflect long enough, can we not see how Jesus Christ is intimately connected with each of these? And if connected, then certainly worthy of our mentioning, exploring, and discussing.
Alma said, as he preached to the people of Gideon: “…behold…there be many things to come;” but, he said, “there is one thing which is of more importance than they all…the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people” (Alma 7: 7). My fellow children of God, I ask you: Are we talking enough about that one thing which is of more importance than all the rest? Are we giving Jesus enough time?
Joseph Smith wrote in 1838: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (History of the Church, 3: 30).
I ask you, are we spending so much time focusing on the appendages that we forget to regularly come back to the fundamentals?
BREAD OF LIFE
Bread has become a staple food in nearly every land. And it seems that just about every country specializes in its own type of bread. I served my mission in France—and there is no bread like authentic French bread. I spent some of my growing up years in Hawaii—no other bread I’ve eaten compares to Hawaiian sweet bread. Years ago, I visited Istanbul, Turkey—I’ve never had any bread like hot out of the oven Turkish bread. I’ve also been to Australia—they’re known for a bread they cook in the fire called “damper.” Then there’s Egyptian “sun bread,” Jewish unleavened bread, San Francisco sourdough, and the list goes on and on. Well…heaven has its own Bread too. They call it Jesus. There is nothing else in the world like Him. Jesus Christ is “that bread come down from heaven” (John 6: 33, 51). He is the staple food of our spiritual lives.
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread…”
Do any of you know what the word manna means? Translated from the Hebrew, manna means: “what is it?” The Israelites were in the wilderness, terribly hungry for something—anything—to eat. So God rained down food from heaven for them. The Israelites saw it, and asked, “What is it?”
Today, heaven offers mankind the Living Bread—the Bread of Life—Jesus and His atonement wrought for the whole human family. And again, how much of the world looks on, and asks, “What is it?” The Book of Revelation calls Christ the “hidden manna” (see Revelation 2: 17). Hidden? Maybe it then becomes evident that your job and mine is to help the world discover who Jesus really is. But we can’t teach the world that which we do not know for ourselves.
And then there’s water. On one occasion, Jesus sat at a well and taught a woman about Living Water. In the dry and desert regions of Israel, wells were not only the source of water for the community, they represented life to the community. Where there was no water, there was no life. And so it is with Christ. God has made Him the source of life for us all.
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this water…”
Water gives life to the body. It constitutes approximately 60% of our total body weight, and is essential for nearly all chemical reactions that occur within the body. It is, therefore, necessary that we replenish our bodies with water so that they might continue to grow or heal or regenerate. Well, Jesus Christ is Eternal Water, the source of eternal life. Each spirit dies without Him. It needs Him to grow, to heal, to regenerate. Of course, this is symbolic. But the symbolism is perfect. Jesus, Himself, gave it to us.
Our Savior is the fountain of all righteousness, from whom comes every good thing to man—continually flowing, constant and enduring. The river of the Lord will never dry up. If men thirst it is because they have strayed from its banks.
I ask you: ARE YOU EATING JESUS’ FLESH AND DRINKING HIS BLOOD? Not in a literal, physical way, but in the spiritual way that He meant. And I’m not just speaking of the sacrament, which is a most sacred ordinance, but only a symbolic representation of His deeper injunction to eat, drink, and live. Are you feasting on Christ, Himself? If you and I aren’t, then we are snacking on the peripheral ideas and commandments of the gospel, which may sustain us from snack to snack, but little by little, our deeper spiritual self will slowly shrivel, and weaken, until our root will have no depth of earth, and the scorching sun—or the difficulties of life—will turn our tree into dust. There will be no Rock for a foundation, only sand; and when the floods and storms of life come—and they will!—we will most definitely fall.
(to be continued…)