Sunday, September 18, 2016

Charity: The Purpose of Life

Life is short.  In comparison to an infinite universe, our existence here in this world is infinitely minute. (Although infinitely minute, our eternal life is the work and glory of God and therefore our potential is infinite) We have a minuscule finite amount of time to fulfill our purpose here, but what is our purpose here, why were we created, and what for? In the pre-existence, before we came here, two plans were presented.  One guaranteed that not one soul would be lost but in exchange, we would lose our agency.  The other plan presented did not guarantee eternal life but it protected the freedom of our agency. (Moses 4:1-3) The second plan was chosen, but why?  Why did God the Father choose a plan with such a high risk of failure and low probability of His children returning to Him?  If He loved us so much why did He not choose a plan in which all mankind would have an automatic guarantee of eternal life?  Why did he a choose a plan in which we would have to exercise agency to choose the right?  Why is the ability for us to choose so important to Him?

God is love. (1st John 4:16, Lectures of Faith 3:24)   Not the cheap selfish-needy emotions of infatuation, romance, and attraction we synonymous equated to love, but actual love in its purest form. (see Moroni 7:45) All other attributes of God can be traced back to His love.  Charity, the pure love of Christ, is the greatest of all His character traits.  We come to this earth to progress and become like God; to become Love.  You can compel obedience to a law.  You can make others worship and live the way you do.  You can even force others to act charitable and give to the poor. (1st Cor 13:3) But no matter how much you infringe upon someone’s agency; you cannot produce charity in them because that comes from their own heart.  That comes when one sacrifices, by their own free will, their heart to others.  Love is non-existent without free-will.  That is why God the Father chose the plan of Jesus Christ over Lucifer’s.  Because if we do not develop Godly love in this life, if we have not charity, we are nothing.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail.  But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.(Moroni 7:46–47)
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”(1 Corinthians 13:1–3)

It really doesn’t matter if you live a devote life to your church organization and go through every ritual and ceremony.  If that set of religious practices has not wrought a mighty change of heart and has caused you to live the pure religion which James describes as visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction (some examples of the fruits of Charity), your religion is vain. (James1:26-27) If you give all you have to the poor for any reason other than love, it profiteth you nothing. (1Cor13:3)    Even if you can prophesy and are well immersed in the scriptures and can by faith perform miracles, even if you die a martyr, it makes no difference if you have failed to keep the two great commandments which center around charity:

“ Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”(Matthew 22:37–40)

God created us to love. All the commandments gravitate around charity.  That is the whole purpose why we are here:  To become love.  Because when we become love, we become even as God is.  And when we are like God, we can actually bear his presence and not burn in His everlasting glory and fire. 

“God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”(1 John 4:16–17)
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”(Moroni 7:48)

This week my uncle unexpectedly passed away.  It’s been a hard a week, but through these trials, we have had an outpouring of the Spirit and have been able to praise the Lord through this storm.  There can be beauty in death.  I have been blessed to witness powerful love and charity in my family. 
The first example of great love is my Grandma who just lost her oldest son.  I can’t think of any greater love on this earth that comes near to the love of God than the love a mother has for her child.  The word sacrifice in Hebrew is ‘korban’ which means to draw nearer to; to draw closer to.   The moment a woman is pregnant she is sacrificing her body for that child.  For the rest of her life, she sacrifices her time, her ambitions, her efforts for her child.  Something happens when you sacrifice for someone else, you naturally draw nearer to that person.  You cannot claim to truly love someone unless you have made sacrifices for that person.  Because our time here on earth is so limited, we actually have the ability to sacrifice because we have the risk to lose everything, and therefore possess the capability to truly love.  This is why Jesus Christ loves us so desperately.  He is so very near to us because of what he Had to sacrifice for us.  Likewise, a mother is the closest person on earth to her children because of what she has sacrificed for them.  No one except Jesus Christ loves you then that your own mother, because no one except Jesus Christ has sacrificed as much as your mother.  My grandma has sacrificed so much for her children.  No one on earth loves my uncle Grant more than she.  Being able to witness her spiritual strength and her charity through these trials over these last few weeks has been a blessing and an eye-opener to me. 

The second example of Love I was blessed to witness is that of my uncle Grant.  We often don’t recognize all the great things someone has done until they have left this world.  Grant is a good man.  Because of distance, I wasn’t able to spend as much time with him as I would have liked, but I know he is a selfless man full of love and charity.   I spent a lot of time this week at the hospital and was able to see just how many lives Grant has touched.  There were too many visitors that He had to be moved to the largest room.  Although his time here was shortened, he made a change in the world for the better.  He loved those the Lord place in His path.  I was able to see the fruits of love in His life this week, and there were many good fruits.   I believe because of the charity he possessed, he attained to something that many people go their whole life and never find. 

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him”(Moroni 7:47)

I will miss Tito Grant, but life is short.  In an infinite universe our existence here in this world is infinitely minute.  It won’t be too long until I join him I see him again with the rest of the family.  In fact, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if he has big banquet party all planned out and decorated for us when we get there.  I love, you Tito Grant, you will always be in my heart, until we meet again….