Sunday, September 14, 2014

All You Need Is Love!

I was listening to a podcast with the author of a book entitled Letters to a Young Mormon.  It is a book written by a father for his daughter and is a series of letters containing some of the most important things he wished for her to know about the Gospel.

On the section titled “Sin,” the author provides us with a very unique understanding of how we establish our relationship with God:

"Your story, like everyone's, is a bit of a Frankenstein.  Without your hardly noticing or choosing, it gets sewn together, on the fly, out of whatever borrowed scraps are at hand.  You may have borrowed a bit from your mother, a bit from a movie you liked, and a bit from a lesson at church.  You may have stitched these pieces together with a comment overheard at lunch, a glossy image from a magazine, and a second-grade test score.  Whatever sticks.  More stuff is always getting added as other stuff is discarded.  Your story's projection of what you should be is always getting adjusted. Your idea of your shadow's optimal shape gets tailored and tailored again.

"Like most people, you'll lavish attention on this story until, almost unwittingly, it becomes your blueprint for how things ought to be.  As you persist in measuring life against it, this Franken-bible of the self will become a substitute for God, an idol.  This is sin.  And this idolatrous story is all the more ironic when, as a true believer, you religiously assign God a starring role in your story as the one who, with some cajoling and obedience, can make things go the way you've plotted.  But faith isn't about getting God to play a more and more central part in your story.  Faith is about sacrificing your story on his altar."

I love this analogy.  When things don’t go the way we want them to we get mad or frustrated or sad because God isn’t fitting into our mold.  We need to get to know God as He is, go to Him, seek Him out, learn about Him, otherwise we will be stuck worshipping and praying to a God who is nothing more than an idol.

“Jesus [asks] us to lose [our] story.  ‘Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matt 10:39 nsrv).  Hell is when your story succeeds, not when it fails.  Your suffocating story is the problem, not the solution.  Surrender it and find your life.”

Once we forfeit our “story” at God’s feet, we are then more free to keep his most important commandments.  In the section on Faith, the author tells us where we can find God:

“Don’t look for God in the throne room.  Don’t look for him in outer space.  You won’t find him there.  Jesus claims, instead, that he’s hidden in plain sight.  God constantly gives himself to us in the inconvenient, in the hungry, the outcast, the prisoner, the sinner.  He gives himself in what we would like to ignore.”

How we can love and serve God is taught in greater detail in the Book of Job.  Job does a lot of complaining; in fact the majority of what he says is cursing his life and asking “why me?”  His friends had come to comfort him, but they can’t handle the fact that Job claims he’s innocent and is yet suffering.  To them, God doesn’t punish the innocent, and so they see Job as attacking God by calling Him unjust and incompetent. This throws up red flags for them and they caution him and berate him for coming close to blasphemy.

At the end of the story, God condemns Job’s friends and says that Job (through all of his complainings and cursings) showed greater love to God than they did.  Can you imagine what his friends were thinking?!  They just spent numerous chapters trying to defend God and He says they were less devout!

This situation is very similar and almost easier to understand in the story of the Good Samaritan.  The common understanding is that the priest and the Levite pass by the injured man simply because they didn’t love enough or didn’t have time.  While these may be valid interpretations, it is helpful to remember that it was against their law for men in their position to touch the dead, which this man appeared to be.  Perhaps there is another reason they chose not to help a man in need that also parallels the motives of Job’s comforters in abandoning their friend.

“The priest and the Levite do not want to risk ritual uncleanliness by touching a dead body.  [Job’s comforters] don’t want to risk the moral contagion of listening to Job’s blasphemous complaints against God.  In both cases, the representatives of the orthodox religion choose abstract theological purity above the physical and spiritual needs of another human being.  For both Jesus and the Job poet, it is the wrong choice….  The unconditional love that Christ requires of us cannot coexist with any ideology that requires us to reject those who do not hold it.”

How are we taught to love God?  By serving our fellow man (Mosiah 2:17); by loving those who are hungry, thirsty, imprisoned (physically, emotionally, spiritually), naked (Matt 25:40); after baptism we covenant to bear one anothers burdens, mourn with those that mourn and comfort those needing comfort (Mosiah 18:9-10).  The second greatest commandment is essentially a way for us to comply with the first.  

All of us can find more ways to serve others and to overcome any uncomfortableness when encountering people who might not choose to live the same way we do (within or without the Church).  “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  If we do not have love, God is not with us.  (1 John 4:7-21)   Our mission on this earth is to love God’s children.


  1. Great thoughts! It's true that preserving relationships is more important than being right. Because the minute you stop loving someone you are wrong.

  2. Excellent! Very thought provoking.