There were so many delicious gospel nuggets in class this week. The two that left me the most flavor blasted were the breakdown of the beatitudes and the quote from C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity."
We all know the beatitudes. Blessed are the ____, for they shall ____. Brother Griffin's interpretation goes so much farther than the pretty poetry of the original text. He says that what Christ was teaching us here is step-by-step guide for repenting (or improving any part of our lives, for that matter). Take the first beatitude, for example. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." When we realize that we are poor in spirit, or in other words lacking something, it is only then when we can make the necessary changes to become better.
I love this view of the beatitudes so much. It strengthens my testimony of the Doctrine of Christ knowing that even from His first public sermons, He was teaching about repentance. And when you break it down, repentance is just a fancy word for change.
John The Baptist is one of the coolest characters in the Bible. He knows what he's about, and doesn't let anything get in his way. He never loses sight of his main goals.
From even before John was born, he was testifying of Jesus Christ. Luke 1 says, "41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:"
How cool is that? From womb to tomb, John spent every moment of his life helping people see how amazing the Savior was. He never gave up, he never rested! What a guy. I hope that in my career, future relationships, and positions of influence, I can be like John, and point everyone towards Christ,
Gillette's recent "toxic masculinity" ad has once again sparked a discussion in our country about what it means to be a man. I've read opinions of those in and out of The Church both supporting and attacking the ad and the ideas within. But all the noise got me curious about what Jesus Christ himself taught about being a man, and what our church's official doctrine is. My intent is not to politicize scripture, but just share what I found.
Many feel threatened by the ad, claiming that it is an attack on men in general, and I don't think that was their intent at all. Masculinity can be positive. In the scriptures, The Lord asked his disciples what manner of men they ought to be, and then answered, "Even as I am." What kind of a man was Jesus?
Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave a great talk in October 2006 called "Let Us Be Men." He talks about the Savior's attributes that we, as men, should try to emulate. According to Christofferson, "Jesus rejected temptation. The Savior was obedient. Jesus 'went about doing good.' The Savior was fearless in opposing evil and error."
In the 1999 talk "Behold the Man," first counselor in the presiding bishopric Richard C. Edgley said "I suppose it is natural for us to equate strength, machoism, and maybe even boisterous and aggressive behavior with manhood. However, the attributes of true manhood are not necessarily physical." When we compare the world's view of masculinity with the gospel view of masculinity, it's easy to spot the differences. Gillette's ad encourages men to stand up for others, to not encourage aggression and violence, to speak out against sexual harassment, and to set good examples. Where does that conflict with what the Savior taught?
To close with Elder Christofferson's words, "He gave his life to redeem mankind. Surely we can accept responsibility for those He entrusts to our care. Brethren, let us be men, even as He is."
I read a little thing this week that made me happy, and made me think.
It comes from Isaiah 54:2. Here's what it says:
"Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;"
This scripture is often thought of in the context of missionary work. Sharing the gospel to all the world, the growing church, etc. But my mind took it in a different direction this time. I thought more about the change that is going to have to happen in all of our hearts as the church grows.
I imagine this direction to make the tent bigger was given before it was apparent why. Can't you imagine God saying, "Enlarge the place of thy tent!" and the people saying, "Why? It's big enough for everyone already!" Our doctrine states that as the world get closer to the Second Coming of Christ, the church will grow too. That will require a lot of physical and spiritual expansion.
The gospel is meant to encompass everybody. People will (and do) join the church who have very different ideas than me. People will (and do) join the church whose philosophies and politics I dislike. People will (and do) join the church whose personalities grate on me. People of different races and sexual orientations than me will join (and have joined) the church too. And to sum it up, I think what this scripture is saying is "make room."
I'm certainly not arguing that everyone is perfect just the way they are. The core of the gospel is repenting and changing to become better. What I'm saying is, we need to give everyone the space they need to come into the tent and experience Christ for themselves.
Christ's love is big enough to give everyone a chance. Am I?