Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Becoming Like Christ

                A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to visit with a man named Lynn from my hometown; in fact, we were in the same class in school.  While we visited, we spoke of a mutual acquaintance named Fran who had been my bishop in Alaska and then served in the mission field with Lynn.  During our conversation, Lynn made this statement:  “Fran is the most Christlike man I know,” and I agreed with him.  As I later pondered Lynn’s statement, I came to the conclusion that Lynn had given Fran the greatest compliment possible.  I am determined to live in such a way that acquaintances will think the same of me.

                I remember a time when Fran and I were attending an all-day Seminary meeting with lunch served.  We were standing in line waiting for our turn to get some food when someone dropped some of their food on the floor.  Fran immediately went to help and did so by cleaning the food off the floor and getting her some more food.  This is just one of many times that I observed Fran serving other people and doing so with a pleasant and loving attitude.  The reason this experience stands out so much in my mind is that my brain was still processing the idea of “maybe I should help” when I saw that Fran was already helping.  Service was just one of the many Christlike attributes that were a part of Fran.

                How do we become more like Christ?   During the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior commanded the people – and us – to become like our Father in Heaven.  “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  The Joseph Smith Translation of this verse starts, “Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect….” (JST 5:50).  After the Savior was resurrected, He visited the inhabitants of ancient America and gave a similar commandment to them:  “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 12:48).

                We can assume from these scriptures that the Savior believes that each one of us has the capability to become perfect.  Common sense tells us that if we are trying to become perfect like the Savior, we can become more like Him by gaining the same attributes that He has.  What are His attributes, the character traits that we each need to gain in order to become more like Him?

                The Lord revealed some of those traits in Doctrine and Covenants 4.  This section contains the qualifications to “embark in the service of God,” all of which are Christlike characteristics.  “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
                “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence” (verses 5-6).

                The late Apostle Mark E.Peterson quoted the above scripture and then said, “These are the traits of character of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How earnestly do we try to build them into our own souls?

                “He commands us to become perfect, even as His Father in Heaven is perfect.  (See Matthew 5:48.)  Can perfection arise out of careless living?  Can we achieve perfection by imperfect means?  It is plain to see why the Lord is strict and why we must serve Him with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.  (See Doctrine and Covenants 4:2.)

                “It is no easy matter to live the gospel as we should.  But unless we do, we cannot receive the blessings.  It is no easy matter to become perfect in anything.  Perfection requires devotion, long-suffering, persistence, willingness to sacrifice, and constant concentration.  Imperfection can produce only further imperfection.

                “Could you sisters bake a good cake if you did not follow the recipe?  Could you brethren build a house or a highway, or make a clock, or send a man to the moon if you ignored the formula provided for such achievements?  Could you become a doctor if you did not follow the prescribed course in a medical school?  Could you become an engineer if you ignored the principles of engineering?
                “Then can we expect to achieve perfection like that of Almighty God if we fail to follow the course He lays out for us?”

                President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave some counsel on how to invite other people to come unto Christ, which can be of help to us.  “The words `come unto Christ’ are an invitation.  It is the most important invitation you could ever offer to another person.  It is the most important invitation anyone could accept….

                “All of us should be intensely interested in learning how to issue that invitation effectively.  We know from experience that some will not respond.  Only a few responded when the Savior Himself offered this invitation during His mortal ministry.  But great was His joy in those who recognized His voice.  And great has been our joy when those we have invited have come unto Him.

                “It is worthwhile to ponder over those instances in our own lives when people have responded.  Personally, I have seen a pattern when people have accepted that invitation.  In each case the Holy Ghost has manifested at least three truths to them.  The experiences have not always come in the sequence in which I will list them, but they all come to the hearts of those who truly come unto Christ.

                “First, they come to feel that the only way they can have the happiness they want most in this life and in the world to come is through Jesus Christ….

                “Second, those I know who have truly come unto Him make covenants to obey and to follow Him….

                “That leads to the third thing I have seen in the lives of those who have truly come unto Him.  They strive to become like Him.  They begin to do unto others as they know He would do….

                “Another wonderful thing will happen.  When you give your heart to inviting people to come unto Christ, your heart will be changed.  You will be doing His work for Him.  You will find that He keeps His promise to be one with you in your service.  You will come to know Him.  And in time you will come to be like Him and `be perfected in him.”  [See Moroni 10:32.]  By helping others come unto Him, you will find that you have come unto Him yourself.  If you want to be near Him, to feel His peace, you can do it best in His service.”

                Jesus Christ invited His disciples to follow Him, keep His commandments, and become like Him.  As Christians, we have the responsibility to follow His example and invite others to learn of Him.  I know that people will be drawn to us as we seek to become more like Christ.  I know that we can all improve our ability to invite others to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.

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