Monday, March 06, 2006

My Father, My God, part III

My Father, My God, part III

In this series, I have aimed at trying to help the reader better understand our relationship with God. I wonder if through it all, I have still placed too much emphasis on static doctrine, and missed the real point: we are in a very literal and personal sense children of our Heavenly Father. In this third and final installment, I will try to establish how such a knowledge can make us become so much more. As children of God, we can understand our true worth before our Maker, and our incredible potential to be like him.

How much are we worth? I am awestruck when I think of it with this perspective: We live on the planet Earth. To me, this planet seems gargantuan. Yet, it is a rather small planet, especially when compared to Jupiter or Saturn. But every planet, asteroid, comet, or other object that orbits our Sun comprise a mere 0.2% of our solar system. The Sun alone takes up the other 99.8%. But our sun isn’t a particularly large star. It’s actually on the smaller side. There are estimated to be over a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. In the known universe there are at least four hundred billion galaxies. Imagine how many stars that means exist in this universe! Each star is undergoing an incredibly powerful fusion reaction, each consuming billions of tons of hydrogen every second. The total amount of energy put out is a grand number, far greater than what we could possibly imagine. Yet, when a single star goes supernova, it releases more energy than all the stars in the universe combined. We are but specks of dust in an infinite room.

And yet, in all of God’s creation, we are by far his most treasured. Nothing to him is more valuable. His glory does not derive from his ability to create “worlds without number.” His work is not to produce incomprehensible quantities of energy. “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). In other words, every action God performs, it is for our benefit. The creation of this massive powerhouse of a universe was simply for us. Every thought in his limitless mind is how he can serve us, and what he can do to bring us back home.

For all his effort, many of us will not return to our Maker. Why? Because, according to God’s plan, we must have agency. That is how we grow. He is eager to give all that he has, but we cannot be prepared to receive that until we’ve overcome the opposition (see 2 Nephi 2). That means we will be tempted and tried, and only those who give their all, and cast all the rest on the eternal grace of Christ can be redeemed and inherit their mansions.

What must we do to overcome our opposition? What must we do to obtain eternal life? We must know God. We must establish a relationship with him. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3) The truth is, without knowing the Father and the Son, there is no life eternal. And we must begin establishing that relationship in this life.

God is always reaching out to us. We are children who have disowned our Father, have given up our inheritance, and our now wandering prodigals. Our sinful lives, even if we’ve been nearly perfect, completely cut us off from all access to God. Knowing that all of us would cut ourselves off, God offered his Son. Through the merits of the Messiah, we can again communicate with our Heavenly Father. Again, imagine that we have willfully broken ties with our parents. Our Father, wanting us to return to him ever so badly, sent his only faithful Son to intercede on behalf of the rest of us. Through the infinite-reaching efforts, each of us can be restored into proper standing with our Father. By his own laws, God cannot force us to return to him. But he reaches out in every way he can, including offering his one righteous Son, so that he can reconnect with his wayward offspring.

But what do we do to reinstitute our bonds? How do we get to know God again? The Lectures on Faith offer this:

Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God, unto life and salvation:

First, the idea that he actually exists.

Second, a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.

Third, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive, but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Lectures on Faith 3:2-5)

Since parts I and II thoroughly covered the former two necessities in sufficient detail, the latter deserves the most attention here. Restated, it is by living a godly life that we find ourselves in true communion with our Divine Parent. Through sacrifice, service, and righteous living, we develop a faith in God. And with that faith, we again become Father and child. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). We must develop that faith through our efforts.

If, through our minuscule offerings and the Atonement of Christ, we are brought to stand before God at the Day of Judgment, our Father will embrace us, kiss us, and welcome us home through tears. We will spend eternity in his presence, in one of his numberless mansions prepared by the Son (John 14:2). We will be filled with his Glory, and we will become what he is. We will be gods, forever worshipping the Almighty God (D&C 132:20, Revelation 3:21, and many other scriptures)!

I know of no way to make it clearer. We are the children of God! So what does this mean to us as individuals? If we have truly grasped the true significance of this knowledge, we begin to change our lives. We live like princes and princesses. We make use of the offering of the Son, and bring our lives into harmony with the Father. If we truly know this, our lives are forever altered. We will comprehend ourselves and our destinies (King Follett Discourse). We reach out for communication with God, so he can guide us back to his presence.

It also means that we look at others as divine. As Christ best exemplified, we can serve and love those around us. Some may not dress well, may have less enjoyable personalities, or have bad hygiene. Some may be old, ill, or unattractive. Yet, God loves all his children. Christ served anyone accepting of his service, even the lowest castes. Knowing that we truly are looking at our brothers and sisters, with the same divine sparks in their souls, we should remember to treat everyone with love and dignity.

Unlike the first two parts in this series, I have been reserved in my scripture and quote usage. I have relied heavily on my testimony. And it is with my testimony that I will close. I truly know that I am a beloved son of God. I know that it is his joy, his pleasure, his work, and his glory to give to me all that he has. I know that he loves me with such a certainty that it has changed my life. Even since first attempting to tackle this topic, I have felt him change me. I know that we are all his children, and I have learned to love my fellow man more because of this realization. And I know that all of this is made possible by his gift of his Son (John 3:16), and his Son’s eternal sacrifice. Christ knew his Father, and addressed him as such throughout his life. Then the Only Begotten Son suffered and was crucified for all of us. And when he rose on the third day, he spoke with Mary Magdalene, making his and our relationship with God clear: “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). He is my Father, my God.


mathoni said...

Of the three parts to this series, this is probably your strongest. Very nicely stated. I can't add much to what you have to say, but good job.

J2A2K (darth_ender) said...

Thank you very much. I was having a very difficult time planning on how I was going to sum up my ponts. I knew what I was trying to say, but how to get it across...I'm glad you feel it turned out well.