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Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Love of God

I'm going to keep working at this, but please tell me your thoughts on it. This is a rough draft, written in about a half hour...keep that in mind...

The love that our Heavenly Father is an incredible thing to ponder, let alone comprehend. As I've been in church, religion classes, serving as a missionary, in my quiet moments, and being amongst others, I can’t help but ponder the unsurpassable love that our Father has for us. The scriptures abound with verses proclaiming His love, and the love of His Divine Son:

John 15:13- “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

1 John 4: 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
The scriptures also tell us that “God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” His Son is the greatest gift that mankind has received. Through Christ’s Atonement we, as imperfect beings, are reconciled to a perfect God. Through His suffering on the cross and in Gethsemane, He took upon Him the “pains and sicknesses of His people…He took upon Him death, that He [could] loose the bands of death that bind His people.”
His suffering was intense, it “caused God, the greatest of All, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit.” He took all of this for us. For each mistake and failure, for each sin, and every pain, sorrow, and disappointment that we would ever feel, He took it upon Himself. This is the love that God showed to us. This is the love His Son showed through His supreme act of sacrifice.
Our part of possessing this love is showing it to others. The same man who proclaimed “if ye love me, keep my commandments,” commands us to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” What a revolutionary thought! Far from the prior commandment and punishment of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” he later commanded his disciples to forgive those that trespassed against them, “even til seventy times seven [times]. This is something that needs to be focused on more, as we try and emulate the Savior. I find myself often reacting harshly to others, comparing my gifts and talents to those that are not blessed in the same way. As Joseph B. Wirthlin once wrote:
The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.

As I was one day knocking on doors as a missionary, I spoke with a woman who was in a hurry to leave her house. In a frustrated outburst, she exclaimed, “why are you even here?” My gut reaction, my mouth opening before thinking about it, I said “because we love you.” The tone of the conversation changed at once. Her eyes filled with tears, as I prayed for the love of our Father to be felt through my words. I’ll never forget those tears, or the Spirit that the simple sentence, “…I love you” inspires.
Elder Wirthlin once wrote,

“Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us—even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will.
We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won’t, for He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation. It takes us as men and women of the earth and refines us into men and women for the eternities.

The means of this refinement is our Christlike love. There is no pain it cannot soften, no bitterness it cannot remove, no hatred it cannot alter. The Greek playwright Sophocles wrote: “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”

When most people think of the person they believe to be unreachable, and of who deserves Father’s punishments the most, many answer Adolf Hitler. While the ultimate fate of Hitler is unknown, a story about a dream an Apostle of the Lord, George F. Richards had. Elder Richards related in 1946 (scarcely a year since the fall of the Third Reich):

“I dreamed that I and a group of my associates found ourselves in a courtyard where, around the outer edge of it, were German soldiers--the Fuehrer Adolph Hitler was there with his group, and they seemed to be sharpening their swords and cleaning their guns, and making preparations for a slaughter of some kind, or an execution. We knew not what, but, evidently we were the objects.
But presently a circle was formed and this Fuehrer and his men were all within the circle, and my group and I were circled on the outside, and when we walked around and I got directly opposite to him I stepped inside the circle and walked across to where he was sitting and spoke to him, in a manner something like this, "I am your brother. You are my brother. In our heavenly home we lived together in love and peace. Why can we not so live here on the earth?"
And it seemed to me that I felt in myself, welling up in my soul, a love for that man, and I could feel that he was having the same experience, and presently he arose, and we embraced each other and kissed each other, a kiss of affection.
I think the Lord gave me that dream. Why should I dream of this man, one of the greatest enemies of mankind, and one of the wickedest, but that the Lord should teach me that I must love my enemies, and I must love the wicked as well as the good" (General Conference, October 1946).

May the Lord bless us to show the love that our Savior has for us. I know that the Lord loves us, and that He shows His love to each of us. Pray to feel it. I know that He will answer.
Make personal goals to go out of your way to be positive, to serve, and to love. Faith (and love) always looks to the future. It is strengthened by experiences in our past, our attitude in the present, and our outlook on the future.

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