What thinks Christ of Me?

Recent Relief Society Lesson I taught:

What Thinks Christ of Me? by Elder Neil L. Andersen

Scriptures which stood out to me:

Come, follow me.  Luke 18:22

Peace I leave with you… let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

Be not afraid, only believe.  Mark 5:36

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

My favorite quotes from the lesson:

Jesus’ call “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22) is not only for those prepared to compete in a spiritual Olympics.  In fact, discipleship is not a competition at all but an invitation to all.  Our journey of discipleship is not a dash around the track, nor is it fully comparable to a lengthy marathon.  In truth, it is a lifelong migration toward a more celestial world.

We may not be at our very best every day, but if we are trying, Jesus’ bidding is full of encouragement and hope:  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  (Matt 11:28)

Together we can lift and strengthen one another in the great and important days ahead.  Whatever the difficulties confronting us, the weaknesses confining us, or the impossibilities surrounding us, let us have faith in the Son of God, who declared, “All things are possible to her that believeth.” (Mark 9:23)

Discipleship is believing Him in seasons of peace and believing Him in seasons of difficulty, when our pain and fear are calmed only by the conviction that He loves us and keeps His promises.

Questions to ask ourselves:

Do I understand some of the reasons why many do not consider Mormons to be Christian?

Elder Andersen states: “You are His disciple; you are His friend.  By His grace He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.”  What is my relationship with the words disciple and grace?  What do they mean to me?  Am I in any way confused by them?  How do they help me in the process of drawing closer to Christ?

Do I understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is clear in its teaching that I am saved by grace alone – and not by my “works”?  See His Grace is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox for further clarification.

Disciple comes from a Latin word meaning learner.  Thesaurus results: follower, student, supporter, pupil, convert, believer, devotee, adherent.  How does understanding this word better help me grasp how Jesus sees me?

Jesus asked the Pharisees, “what think ye of Christ?” (Matt 22:42).  Not only is it important to ponder what Christ might think of me, but Christ Himself is curious as to what I might think of Him.  How would I answer this question?

Am I using anything in this lesson against myself?  How can I reframe my thoughts to allow for progress I’d like to make while celebrating how far I’ve already come?

 

  • Andrew

    I realize that this blog isn’t solely about sexuality. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this blog, and your willingness to discuss issues in an open frank manner. Growing up in the LDS church I look back on my youth and feel like many of the questions my curious youth mind would want to know were often far too taboo for most members, and I could never find a safe place to ask them. I think most people seem so scared of difficult questions, like asking them some how will turn them into an apostate, or cause them to lose their testimony. I must say since I have begun to peel back the layers of my fear about numerous areas in my life I have discovered that asking the hard questions when I am open to the spirit just strengthens my testimony, and actually has prepared me for many experiences that I otherwise would be blind to. But because of not giving scary questions power over me anymore by not building up the subjects as “scary”, “taboo” etc… that I have been able to find a lot more peace. I just wanted to thank Natasha for her willingness to contribute to taking away the power from difficult questions, and allowing us to have a safe environment to discuss sensitive topics. I have noticed there doesn’t seem to be as much activity on the blog as of late. Although any time masturbation is brought up there seems to be a firestorm of commentary. But I hope we can all continue to address these difficult questions of life in a calm controlled manner. Which brings me to the connection of the post above. I think Christ was calm, I think he could answer the scariest questions with out working himself up into unnecessary fear. And I think lately taht is one of the things my mind keeps coming back to. Being able to face the scary, difficult questions of life without fear, and faith that Christ has an answer that we can find through study, faith, and using the resources we have (eg this blog:) to fulfill our goals. Thanks Natasha for such a great blog! Keep posting these great topics. Not everyone is a suburban family, married in the temple, completely faithful all the time, and fits our church cultural ideal of perfection.

  • Bradley Hintze

    Thanks Natasha! I love your posts. And thank you Andrew, I enjoy hearing your thoughts.

    I have to apologize for giving a personal story again but I find it cathartic. :) I no longer believe in the truth claims of the church and stopped going to church ten months back. Despite what we often hear in the church I left neither for being offended nor to indulge in sin. As I read this I was reminded how beautiful the Atonement can be. This caused me to reflect on my journey out of the church. If I have no problem and never had a problem with the Atonement doctrine, then what was it that led me to lose my faith? As I retraced my steps I realized that the starting domino that led me to where I am is this very topic, the Atonement! I read Stephen Robinson and Brad Wilcox (linked to in this post) a few years back. I loved their perspectives and took them to be my own. I stopped believing the harmful drivel that told me I was dirty, unworthy, and perverted. It was the best I’ve ever felt to believe that just maybe there was nothing wrong with me.

    I used this view to give myself permission to finally try to go through the temple. I worked with one bishop and he said that I couldn’t go due to unworthiness as I was unable to abstain 100% from masturbation. I was let down but I took courage in the Wilcox/Robinson view of the Atonement, wich I believed to be true with all my heart. However, being a late 20s unendowed, temple-unworthy man led me to other questions. If I wasn’t worthy to go through the temple was I worthy of my priesthood? The sacrement? A year + later I had a new bishop and my personal study of Christ gave me hope and I worked with my new bishop to go through the temple. I took te temple preparation class and everything. I was trying my best to abstain from masturbation and I knew that myself, God and my Bishop also knew it. But again, denied for masturbation ( >: | this is me holding back the anger at being told masturbation was evil).

    I was devastated to say the least. As I thought about it I realized that what I was going through was in direct opposition to what I believed about the Atonement. I was trying my hardest but yet I was disallowed to get saving ordinances. That didn’t make sense. Using Brad Wilcox’s Carnegie Hall/piano analogy; sure to get to heaven I don’t need to play Carnegie-caliber piano, I just have to keep practicing. But I DO need to get my endowment. Ok, then to get to the temple I don’t need to play Carnegie-caliber piano (be absolutely perfect in every little thing) but I do need to be able to play chopsticks perfectly (the temple does have standards!). Trying your best won’t do though. It doesn’t matter if you are uncoordinated; if your best effort after years of practicing chopsticks are one or two wrong keys, sorry, you clearly are not ready to make holy covenants with God. Of course the answer is keep practicing. But this doesn’t really make sense either; it plays into the hurtful notion that the Atonement applies AFTER we do our part, we earn it. This is totally against the healthy view of the atonement.

    It is good to read a post on Christ I only wish the leaders actually would believe Christ’s message. I believe Wilcox and Robinson are trying (probably not explicitly) to conduct a paradigm shift in the church but It has yet to fully take hold. For the sake of the membership, I hope it does soon.

    • Chet

      Bradley,

      I would not let your eternal progression stop, just because you have a Bishop that is going over board on the masturbation issue. Is there more to this than just the masturbation? Pornorgraphy? If it is just occassional masturbation, and your Bishop is the brick wall, I suggest that you meet with your Stake President. Ask to see where masturbation is against the Law of Chasity in the General Handbook, or in a recent letter from the First Presidency.

      • Bradley Hintze

        Hey Chet,
        I don’t believe I am letting ‘my eternal progression stop’ because I simply don’t believe. It is so liberating and feels amazing to have a belief system now that says at my core, even my natural core, I am good, bodhicitta. This belief feels more authentic, more real, more true. It would be hard to believe again because of the double teaching in the church; we are devine but at the same time ‘an enemy to God.’ I have never been so happy in my life! I can’t go back to believing the drivel that teaches that I am broken because I am a 30 years-old man and not married. Teachings that fault me for my single status rather than recognizing my sincere efforts to form relationships.

        Having said that, I respect those for which Mormonism does work. I just ask that you consider that the Mormon belief system is not emotionally safe for everyone. I know that this goes against Mormon belief but perhaps you can think about believing that God is bigger than Mormonism.

  • Anonymous

    I’m hoping you can help me with an issue I’m having with my 26-year-old son. He is a full time student at BYU-I and he is living at home right now because he is “off track.” He is a temple recommend holding return missionary, has always been very active in church, holds a responsible calling, supports himself financially, and is mostly very respectful and obedient. I suspect most everyone who knows him would be shocked to hear about my concern. For some time now, every time he returns home from anywhere–work, church, an errand, whatever–he smells of cigarette smoke. I made a comment the first couple times, and he shrugged it off. A few days ago after he pulled out of the driveway to go to work, I noticed a piece of litter on the driveway. It was an empty cigarette package. I’m very concerned about this, especially the fact that he is sneaking around and lying about it. I have thought about having a talk with him about it, but I chicken out every time the opportunity comes up. What would be the best way to approach him, if at all? What if I ask him about it and he denies it? Is it even any of my business? His Dad and I divorced 15 years ago and our main problem was this exact thing and my son knows that, so this is a particularly sensitive issue for me. Is there a way I can support and encourage my very adult son and help him stop using such very self-defeating behaviors to cope with whatever is bothering him?


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