mercredi 5 mars 2014

The importance of Jesus-Christ as Redeemer, for the Latter-Days Saints or "mormons"

In November, I wrote an article about What does that mean to be "mormon"? and told you I would write another in January. Well it's not January anymore, but I still have written it. It has been tought to find the proper words to express both my view and my Church's position.

I don't want to simply paste the texts you could find in the multiple websites own by the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You could easily read them on your own using these following links:
There's more of them, but I think these two are a good start.

That said, it's time to talk... And to do so, I propose you the testimony of Bishop Gérald Caussé, one of the Authority of the Church, who has very kindly accepted to write his, just for me... and my readers. 
[Thank you so much!]

My testimony of Christ
Two thousand years ago a baby was born in humble circumstances. To human eyes this was an ordinary being just like any of the thousands that are born every day. But, as it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9). 

Behind this apparent banality, the spiritual eye can recognize the fulfillment of marvelous prophecies, the realization of the Plan of Salvation which gives every human being the hope of returning one day to his Heavenly father’s home. 

I testify that He is the long awaited Messiah. He is the only one who, through His perfection and goodness, could intervene in mediation to take away the sins of those who repent. He completed the great atoning sacrifice which opens the doors of eternal life for us. Jesus can be found through the eye of faith.  

I have chosen to put this faith into action, to take His name upon me and to do my best to represent Him by the things I do. He gives us the courage to believe in ourselves, in our family and in our neighbor. Every time I come unto Him by studying His life and His word, I feel comforted in my faith, I gain hope and my heart bursts with love for my neighbor. He knows how to find the good in us in order to transform it into a blessing for others.  

I know that He lives and is my Redeemer.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
Gérald Caussé

When I read it the first time, I felt the Holy Ghost so strongly! Gérarld Caussé is such a kind, loving and smart man. He was my Stake President when I came to Paris and he was also the one who interviewed me for my wedding recommandation. What a great pleasure to know a man like him.

Now, I will share with you my thoughts about Jesus-Christ.

As some of you already know, I am a convert. My family has catholic roots. I have been taught by my maternal grand-mother to respect the churches (the buildings) and also to pray Marie if needed. She was not a religious person, meaning she didn't go to the mass or read the Scriptures, but her education has stayed within her. She was not "friendly" with the catholic clergy (bad memories of her sewing internship with the nuns...) and always told me to use my head to think and ponder. She died before the new Pope, Francis, has been elected. She surely would have liked him. She was not a woman looking for money and luxe. She was more humble in the way she was living and she often told me that she was ashamed with the way "money" was running the Vatican.

That's why I believed in God and Jesus-Christ since my youth but never truelly understood what they were for me: Supernatural being who enjoy to see us suffer and plead with them? Loving conceptual figures? Real being full of Love and Understanding? (well, the last was my favourite...hehe)

When I met the Church of Jesus-Christ of LDS, all my questions found answers. Simple answers as much as spot-on and profound answers. I felt the truth of what was said to me. It was not just me hoping for something that could bring me a "picture of hapiness"... No, it was me receiving feelings and truths I didn't dare to think I would receive in my life (well, not so early in my life...).

I have been explained that I had to pray, to ask what was true, what I should do. And then, the figure of Jesus-Christ became central in my life. He was my model of how I could pray and how I could act during this mortal life, so that my heart would be full of love, joy, compassion, understanding. By His Atonment, He opened a gateway for us which we lead us to a bright and eternal future. With Him, we are not bound by our failures, our bad deeds and our sins. We can change! We can be great! We can overcome the trials and the sorrows and leave aside the tempting callings of Lucifer. When we ask for Him to lead the way and hold our hand, we are stronger, we have a goal and many helpful tools to do better.

I have experienced it these last two years, on many occasions, and it has fortified my testimony and my knowledge of Him. I have learned how to leave the sorrows behind and be calm even if others are enduring deep trials and do not wish for my help. 
I also have accepted that I can do amazing things IF I ask Heavenly Father what was the best to do. When I act without asking first, well... let just say it's a lot more difficult to succeed! Because we often don't know the right time for our actions, we ought to ask Him what's better. God sees everything, and denying us a quick answer is not a sign He doesn't love us. It's a sign He does love us so much that He tries to make us understand it's not appropriate to do so now. Like me when I tell Gabriel that coloring his booklet is a good hobby but not during the lunch. See the parallel?

When you read the Scriptures, you will remark that Jesus has often asked His Father for guidance: during His Fasting in the desert, when He declared the prayer know as the "Pater", or before being arrested. He is our best example so that we could return near God after our earthly time. We have to follow Him, everyday, every step of the way, never leaving the path He has set for us... And if we fall, if we go astray, (because we will fall and we will have fear in our heart... We are not perfect, for now) He will be there to reach for us and lead us again to the bright and loving light of God.

I will never deny He is the Lord, the Redeemer and our beloved Sheperd. I know that He lives and that He has helped me and will help me throughout my life. I know that one day I will meet Him and my hopes are that He will tell me: "You did well little lamb." I wish for my family to be able to know Him better and manage their lifes accordingly.
I say this in the name of Jesus-Christ, Amen.

Writing my testimony was a difficult task. I am not an Apostle, I am not used to speak about Him everyday to many people. I had to ponder how I will share it (not too long, not too evasive, etc) I hope you will be understanding and that you will know me better after having read it.

Here's a video "What mormons believe: Jesus-Christ". 
It's really a well made video, not an "official one", and the woman explaining the topic of Jesus-Christ 
do it with so much kindness, tolerance and love that it brought me tears...

And now, to finish this article, I will leave one of my friend Melissa Dalton-Bardford,
a wonderful woman, tell you her thoughts about the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus-Christ.

Melissa Dalton-Bradford's Testimony

“Today a damp, cold front has flopped over the previously sun-drenched Munich world---feels quite like last week's forgotten swim towel drooping across the sky.”

This is the opening line of an email I wrote to my friend in the fall of 2007. Our family had just moved from one country (France) to another (Germany), and in the middle of that move we had experienced a cataclysm. Our eldest son, Parker, had lost his life.

We were no just moving from country to country, then; we were moving from one planet to another. And on the Planet of Grief we were barely starting to function where the atmospheric pressure, the temperature, even the soil underneath were alien, alienating and terrifying. Everything spelled death. Even, as I describe it above, the cold, damp sky.

I had always been a believing person, obedient, drawn to the spiritual life. While obedient, I was not blindly so, and considered myself a gospel student: analytical, loved reading nothing more than philosophical treatises and religious studies. Because I studied and lived my faith, I could claim to have had a firm, even granite solid, spiritual foundation.

And then the universe imploded. And with that, I was shaken in a way I could never have anticipated. Not once did I doubt the existence of an after life. On the contrary, I knew in a new and sacred way that eternal life was the reality. Not once did I doubt the existence of a God and Savior. There, too, I now knew in a new and sacred way that they were real and present in my life, answered prayers, sought to bless and support us. Because of these feelings, I did not rage at the heavens or rattle my fist at God.

But I was afraid.

Existentially, profoundly, pathologically afraid. This is how I wrote about my fear to my friend:
"I cannot understand what God is doing with us and where this all leads but to more fear of God. I used to trust so fully in His love and goodness and counsel. Now I fear Him in my very bones. I feel a shuddering smallness when I approach Him in prayer (many times a day) knowing too well now that His will could mean instantaneous devastation at any turn. Nothing is ours to hold on to, nothing is sure, nothing is reliable. I can turn myself wholeheartedly to my living children; but that turning has an arthritic ache since I know that any one of these remaining three can be removed without warning from my view, from my efforts, from my touch. The skittishness, this mild paranoia of being robbed/violated again is a daily, an hourly sensation."

My wise friend wrote her spiritual convictions:
"I can understand this response, Melissa. I think this fear, this skittishness, is inevitable. But God did not take Parker. I simply do not believe that God orchestrates every single thing that happens here on the earth. He has much more respect for our free agency and for the unalterable conditions of mortality than that.  
I love this quote:

“Has God designed persons to suffer? Has he touched them with his hand of affliction? Has he caused the evil that has come to them? Too many of us are inclined to think or lean toward the feeble thought that the illness that comes to us, the afflictions that we suffer, the accidents that we meet with in life, and the troubles that beset us on our way in the journey of life are attributable either to the mercy or the displeasure of God.”

The fact is that sometimes things just happen--good things, bad things, cruel, horrible, unspeakable things. That’s mortality. We chose to come, bearing the great gift of free agency and with the glorious promise of eternal life before us, to a world that was fraught with peril, danger, risks. While here, we are separated by death. You are now separated from Parker. Which is what makes Christ’s victory on the cross so mind-bogglingly, so joyously, so earth-shatteringly magnificent. It’s a temporary (fleeting, even, in the scope of all eternity) separation, and by no means a total one. And the great promise of the gospel is that one day the veil will be dissolved entirely and all that was lost will be restored.  
That, my sweet, sweet friend, is power of Jesus Christ."

My email exchanges with this friend did much to sustain me and my family through some precarious and turbulent months. But these mails weren’t all that sustained us. I felt as I had never before in any other challenge the almost overpowering downward suction and desire to let go in despair. 

Once, when I wrote, “I do not know what to hold on to,” my friend responded lovingly:

"Then hold on to Him, and with Him everything that belongs to Him. It is not lost. All will be restored. All that He has He longs to give to you. That is the great promise of our religion, the foundation and impetus of our deepest beliefs. Hold on to that, Melissa."

And I did that. I held on only to God. With all of my force and will, I held on only to God and the promises I’d learned and believed throughout my life before tragedy. Now they were put to the true test. I burrowed down deep into every spiritual practice I knew: meditation, occasional fasting, reading holy scripture, listening to the most inspirational music, praying as frequently as I breathed, serving others. As I did all this—and I did it for months that turned into years, I began to feel an undeniable surging current of love. I reached for it. When I did, I found God already there, reaching for me. I realized that I was learning to know God on an entirely new level.

Here is how I explained that to my friend:
"Francis Webster, a handcart pioneer, wrote, years after the horrendous experience: "We suffered beyond anything you can imagine, and many died of exposure and starvation, [but we] came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities. . . . Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay."

While standing over Parker's body in the ICU, I recall the moment I whispered while choking tears, "Is this what is required to become acquainted with God?" I was understanding something. To "become acquainted with God" is the objective ("Behold, this is life eternal: to know [God] and Jesus Christ. . ." ), and only this year have I begun to internalize that that desire--if it is sincere and enduring---can come laced up with an excruciating price tag.  

We cannot pretend to be very far on our way to "knowing deity" by predictably skipping along some Yellow Brick Road of life, waving to scarecrows, kindly helping them down from their gate posts, oiling the errant tin man, toting our Totos, sopping up tears of a coward. That alone is not the way. I have begun to understand that, while this is all good and mildly challenging in its own right and qualifies us a "good folk", we do not come close to comprehending God through comfort and ease, but through pain and suffering. If we would truly be "acquainted with Him," we must open ourselves up to becoming acquainted with grief. Because He was. We must know something of isolation, of the physical blow of a mule kick to the gut, of betrayal, of being misunderstood and misrepresented, of having our sacrifices taken lightly (or not taken at all).

I recognize, reading these passages again today, that I was literally being tutored in my pain. I wasn’t just led to pain by God then left there, as if forgotten. I was accompanied into the darkness, then guided step by step through it to learn all the darkness could offer. What did I learn? Here is one description:
"Now we feel more gratitude than anything else, more focus on living within the spirit, more determination to continue to actively cultivate our ongoing parental relationship with our deceased son, more openness to whatever the Father has next in mind. My life, once a stage, has become an altar, and God knows I will accept whatever he calls upon us to be offered."

That sounds like a whole lot of spiritual presumption to me as I think of it today. But then, I could not have been presumptuous. It is inviting others (and ourselves) to look deep into and through the individual horrors of their own lives to find the loving and wise face of God within and behind and above it all.

And so once again - raising us from either grave sin, grave sorrow, or from the grave itself - Christ has conquered death.

C.H.R.I.S.T acronym about the everyday powers of Christ!
Picture issue du site: The Red Headed Hostess

I would like to thank you to have read my article and I wish you a beautiful day. 
May the Lord be in your heart and in your mind, may you ponder 
about what you have read and find your goal in life. With all my Love,

PS: If you can read french, I invite you to see the article in french. There are some different contributions. Link here.

The pictures are from the website

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