Monday, December 26, 2016

Faith, Hope and Charity... a closer look at Hope

I’m trying to understand the need for hope. In the Book of Mormon we read we can’t be saved without it. I remember reading in Survivors’ Club the rule of threes: You can live without food for three weeks. Water for three days. Air for three minutes. Hope for three seconds. It's essential to our existence and lives.

I’ve written in the past that faith is the great motivator and in one way it is. Our faith in an effect for something we do, the cause, which motivates our actions. A simple example: I have faith that by working and submitting my time sheets I’ll get paid. And I do. But getting paid isn’t why I work. I want the money because it supports a lifestyle I desire. The end is what I hope for. That’s really “why” I do what I do… there are things I hope for and my faith in a cause-effect relationship with others is how I go about attaining them.

Apart from that is charity. It is the great motivating force of Heaven: it’s why God does what He does. His love for us is why He set all this up, that we can become as Him, which is what He hopes for. It is an approach to things we desire from a position of strength and capacity. But it is focused on the needs of others. It is God-like because that’s how God is.

It’s a mini-chiasmus. One leg is faith, the apex is hope and the other leg is charity. We hope to become like God, to live with Him, to be saved. Where we are powerless to do for ourselves, we have faith in Christ that He will make up the difference in our behalf. But where we do have power to act, Charity governs our actions for that is how we best be like God.

This is why the scriptures say to be saved, to become like God, we need all three. Hope is our vision, it’s what we aspire to be. Faith is how we get there when the demands of the moment are beyond our abilities. And Charity is for those times when we have the power to act… it’s where we practice being like God.

Friday, December 23, 2016

One Among Many

For the first time, in a long time, I went to see the lights on Temple Square last night with some friends. The beauty of the lights was breathtaking... but it was bone-chilling cold too. I have the raspy voice this morning to prove it. A part of the beauty were all the people there. It was almost shoulder to shoulder crowds everywhere on the square and the plaza between it and the Church Office Building.

It caused me to reflect on my position in the church. Most of the time, for me the church is a very personal affair. I pray. I go to the Temple. I feel the Spirit there and when I read the scriptures. It's all so intimate I feel a close, personal connection with Heavenly Father. I often lose site of the fact that the LDS Church is much bigger than just me. Being on Temple Square gave me a glimpse of just how large the Church really is. It was quite invigorating in a way.

Then, when I saw this image this morning of a deep space Hubble photograph with all the thousands of galaxies in the image, I realized, my perspective is still off. In our galaxy alone there are at least three hundred billion stars. Statistically, scientists estimate there are at least two or more planets orbiting each. That's a lot of planets! Now, while our galaxy is larger than most, there are in the observable universe more than 100 billion galaxies... each with it's billions of stars. If the physics hold true for them as us, that number of planets becomes innumerable.

It gives special significance to the scripture in Moses: "world without number have I created... for all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine." I feel small and insignificant when I contemplate the full meaning of that... yet ... When I think that in all those galaxies and all the stars in them and all the planets... and all the life that must exist on them. In all that great vastness of the universe, God still knows me and has personal moments with me. How He does it, I have no idea. That He does is a miracle and a marvel for which I am profoundly grateful. As we celebrate the birth of His Son, I'm mindful of the fact that in all the people for whom He came, He also came for me... and you.

That makes me happy. Merry Christmas to you all.