Tuesday, March 6, 2012
The Gospel, Pure and Simple
I have been messing around on Pinterest lately. Instead of quickly repining something and moving on like I used to, I have been taking the time to go to the original website and explore a little. This has been interesting and I often find more cool ideas and information.
Earlier today I was doing just this when I found myself on a homemaking/mothering blog written by a "pastor's wife" as she described herself. (I am sorry I don't remember the name of the blog or even what brought me to it!) Anyway, as I scrolled through the posts and looked over the blog I noticed a tab at the top that said "I believe". Being fairly interested in what people believe and why I clicked it and found myself reading a very disturbing account.
The author begins by explaining that she knew at the age of 4 that if she died she would go to hell. She goes on to explain how her mother used several verses from the Bible to explain to her how sinful and evil she was and begged her to become saved. She said she believed her mother and "became a child of God". She ends by saying if she can recognize her wickedness at age 4 so can anyone reading her post and invites them to ask her how to become a child of God like her.
I have to say that I was surprised with my own reaction to this. I was horrified, disgusted, and saddened. This, to me, showed the corruption of the gospel in it's simplest form. And I really couldn't imagine ever telling my sweet, innocent child that they were going to hell!
I have long pondered the differences between Latter-Day Saints and...well, everyone else. I realize we have much in common with people of faith. One trait stands out to me. Today this characteristic became much more significant to me.
The gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a message of hope and happiness. We focus on what we can become. We invite others to learn what we have learned. We focus on the positive instead of the negative, the reward instead of the punishment. Even when a church leader is reprimanding or calling to repentance it is in a spirit of love and concern.
For example: many in the Mainstream Christian community might say "You are evil and you are going to hell if you don't accept Jesus." Mormons would say "You have great worth and your Heavenly Father loves you. Accept the atonement of Jesus Christ so you can live with him again."
It isn't that we don't believe in punishment for the wicked. We do. It's just a different attitude. I attribute this to the Book of Mormon and the knowledge that came through the restoration of the gospel. With this understanding and perspective the Bible often takes on a more uplifting and encouraging tone. I know there are some that share our positive perspective. There are many who do not. This focus on the punishment strikes me as depressing and distructive. There can also be pride and arrogance from thinking that we are better than others because of our understanding of God.
I know that every person ever born is a beloved child of God. It doesn't matter if they are wicked or obedient, Mormon, Christian, Muslim, or Athiest. He loves and blesses ALL of his children. He also grants us the freedom to choose what we will believe. He wants us to love him and obey him. He wants us to love one another. He is disappointed when we do not do these things. But he loves us still.