He’s in the name of our church and we covenant to take upon ourselves His name when we are baptized, he is the central part of everything we do. We know that without Christ, we are lost, without Christ, we are without hope.
President Ezra Taft Benson spoke simply and clearly of the role of Christ in our lives and in our religion. He said in a General Conference address, “The fundamental principle of our religion is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is it expedient that we center our confidence, our hope, and our trust in one solitary figure? Why is faith in Him so necessary to peace of mind in this life and hope in the world to come?
“Our answers to these questions determine whether we face the future with courage, hope, and optimism or with apprehension, anxiety, and pessimism.
“My message and testimony is this: Only Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to provide that hope, that confidence, and that strength to overcome the world and rise above our human failings. To do that, we must place our faith in Him and live by His laws and teachings.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks speaks equally clearly of Christ in our lives. “We love the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Messiah, our Savior and our Redeemer. His is the only name by which we can be saved (see Mosiah 3:17, Mosiah 5:8; D&C 18:23). We seek to serve him. We belong to his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our missionaries and members testify of Jesus Christ in many nations of the world. As the prophet Nephi wrote in the Book of Mormon, “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Ne. 25:26).”
Sometimes this mortal life seems nothing more than a barrage of mistakes, temptations, and sorrow. The world can be so dark, so sad. Living with our sins and the consequences of the sins of others can be a heavy burden. Without relief there’d be no hope, no reason to try, no purpose.
Fortunately for us, we have One who has gone before, taken upon Himself all of our sins, and paid the price. Fortunately for us, we aren’t doomed to stoop in sin and sorrow for eternity, but if we repent and forsake our sins, we may live in sunshine again. In the poetic words of Jacob, the brother of Nephi, in 2 Nephi 9:10, he says, “O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.”
During his short life on earth, Jesus performed many miracles. He lived a perfect life which may sometimes make him seem so unattainably far away, but he gave up his life and suffered the pain of all of our sins in the garden of Gethsemane, which brings him intimately close to each of us. He who was perfect chose to take upon Himself all the things we do that pull us away from Him. He did so because it was too much for us to do ourselves. He did so because He loves us.
I have felt the love Jesus has for me and the power of the atonement many times in my life. I have felt the peace and comfort of the atonement in situations that didn’t even seem to relate to sin but which still were very hurtful to me. I knew that Christ knew my pain and that I was not alone. It will be a lifetime for me of study to try to understand this great gift that Christ has given us. It is vast and widespread. It is a blanket that will cover everyone who reaches for it.
In our baptismal covenants we take upon the name of Christ. We also agree to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. As we exercise this very important commandment we act vicariously on behalf of Christ, providing the comfort and love that He wishes for each of us to have. Where we have felt the love of our Saviour, it is up to us to share that with others. In doing the work of the Lord, not only do we strengthen those whom we are helping, but we also draw ourselves closer to God.
The love of Christ is so powerful. One summer as a teenager I remember flying into my bedroom in the middle of the afternoon to kneel in prayer. I don’t know what preempted that action, it was certainly nothing eventful. I just remember the sudden need to pray. When I opened my mouth, out fell the simplest, most heartfelt expression of love; simply: I love you. Now as an adult my prayers are more complicated and lengthy; I pray for family and friends, near and far – so many of them are in need of so much; I pray for our primary children and teachers; I pray for our missionaries; I pray for strength, for guidance, for help. I pray with all my heart to the God whom I love so dearly, and I know that as I put my burdens and concerns at His feet, that He knows my pain, and He alone can soothe my heart. I know that if I follow the promptings of the Spirit, I can be His Hands, and soothe others who may also be in need.
In the words of Elder Ballard has said, “if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is one son or daughter of God . . . Our Heavenly Father’s everlasting purpose for His children is generally achieved by the small and simple things we do for one another. At the heart of the English word atonement is the word one. If all mankind understood this, there would never be anyone with whom we would not be concerned, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or social or economic standing. We would strive to emulate the Savior and would never be unkind, indifferent, disrespectful, or insensitive to others.” Elder Ballard’s words become even more relevant to me today.
Today, the tenth anniversary of the devastating attacks of 9/11, we have all taken some time to remember the events. We may remember how we felt, perhaps we reflect on how so many people looked to God for solace. President Monson wrote this week in the Washington Post of the surge of faith in our country following the devastating attacks of 9/11 and how we’ve stepped back our faith since then. “Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well.
“Our Father’s commitment to us, His children, is unwavering. Indeed He softens the winters of our lives, but He also brightens our summers. Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us. He has promised us that this will never change.
“But we are less faithful than He is. By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish. We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy. Sometimes we fail to commune with Him in prayer. Sometimes we forget to succor the poor and the downtrodden who are also His children. And our forgetfulness is very much to our detriment.
“If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.”
The blessings of the atonement require a lifetime of faith, an unwavering desire to improve ourselves and improve our relationship with Christ. It is not enough to claim him as our Saviour. We need to emulate His life, and to do so, we need to know Him. We need to read His sacred words daily, and open our hearts in prayer. We need to follow the promptings of the Spirit to reach out to others, and do all things that we think He would do. Is a lifetime of service to Him too much to ask in exchange for redemption of our sins and an eternity of salvation? There is no comparison between the gift He has given us and the pittance with which we return the favour. We are forever in His debt. We are forever blessed by His love.
With the tender words of Nephi, from 2Nephi, 33:6, I’d like to close my talk and leave my testimony: I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.