Friday, September 23, 2011

Christ's Suffering, and God's Love

So, today at a church meeting we were reading from one of the manuals and one line in particular stuck out to me a lot. It was talking about repentance, and suffering through the repentance process and it said "Even as you feel the great pains of your rebirth, remember that His suffering, not yours, ensures your redemption from sin. Your sacrifice is only a humble reminder of his 'great and last sacrifice' (Alma 34:14) on your behalf."

This got me thinking about Christ's suffering and what it was that he suffered for us. Jesus Christ suffered everything for us. He suffered everything that we have suffered, are suffering, and will suffer, so that when we are in need of comfort, he can "succor his people" (Alma 7:11) and lift our burdens. So everything that we feel of our own suffering, Christ has suffered. But not only did He suffer what we suffered, he also suffered the eternal consequences of our sins, "which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit, and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink." (D&C 19:18) Suffering of this magnitude, for us, is insufferable, and completely unfathomable. We will never have to endure, nor will we ever be able to comprehend, what Christ endured for our sins. Our suffering, that so often seems so difficult and unbearable, is infinitesimally small, utterly insignificant, in comparison to what Christ has suffered for us.

This understanding led me to think of another of my favorite scriptures, Mosiah 2:21, which says: 

"I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another--I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants."

We are eternally indebted to God for everything He has given us, the greatest of these being the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, as a sacrifice for our sins. Christ has suffered more than we can ever know, so much so that if we were to give every bit of our life to Him, we would profit Him nothing. That is love beyond compare! Just as we can never know all that God has given us, and we can never comprehend all that Christ has suffered for us, we will never be able to understand how greatly God loves us!

God loves us more than we will ever be able to love, or even dream of loving another person. Even the overwhelming love that we feel for Christ as we repent and come unto Him pales in comparison to the love that He and our Father in heaven have for us!

The next verse in Mosiah says:

"And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you."

All that God asks for us in return for all of His blessings and all of His love AND the sacrifice of His son, is that we live our lives in the way that he would have us live! How simple! How sweet! How utterly full of grace and love our Father is! And yet, we fail. We falter. None of us is ever able to live our lives in perfect harmony with God's will. Perhaps sometimes we simply need a reminder of Christ's suffering on our behalf. Is that not the purpose of the sacrament? Is that not why we are commanded to read our scriptures daily?

The Lord has given us a road map for life, and if we will sacrifice our selfish desires and turn our lives over to Him, we can do all that we can to repay God for everything He has given us. Of course our efforts will never come anywhere close to recompense for our blessings, but if God loves us more than we comprehend, wouldn't our best be enough to bring Him more joy than we can ever comprehend? If we receive joy and peace from keeping the commandments, how much more joy does our Father in heaven rejoice in our righteous choices?

In keeping the commandments, we become closer to God, and in turn, He becomes closer to us. Imagine the joy that will come from being so close to one with so much love for us! "Shall we not go in in so great a cause?"

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