Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Thoughts About Progression

Anyone who knows me too well knows that I am a huge advocate for the idea that you (and I mean you, literally) can make and choose your own destiny.  The following thoughts are related to this and were spawned by the accompanying scripture verses.

Exodus 20:3
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

I think one example of  an "other god" that does not seem to come up that often is our self, or our nature.  Many people may believe that they are trapped by that which makes them them.  They may say, "that is just the way I am" or "I am just that type of person".  The core of this belief is that our tendencies define who we are, and we are subject to them.  I disagree.

Yes, each of us may be apt to feel or act a certain way in a given situation.  When oppressed, for example, some people may be quicker to anger or others less likely to stand up for themselves.  In the short run, it may be difficult to overcome these natural tendencies.  Nevertheless, I believe that our natural self is malleable.  In the long run, our habits and tendencies are subject to our own choices.  This applies not only to our ability to overcome undesirable habits, but also to our ability to become whatever type of person we want to be (outgoing, reserved, honest, deceitful, etc).  I repeat, our habits and tendencies are subject to our own choices.

To me, this is the crux of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the associated commandments.  When we subject our will to Christ's will, His Atonement becomes efficacious in our lives.  The Atonement of Christ gives us added power to influence change in ourselves, to evolve, and to adapt.

John 15:8
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Several verses speak about bearing fruit in different contexts.  As is the case with most scripture, this can mean different things to different people at different times.  That is the power of symbolism, which I may discuss at a later time.

When I think about what it means to bear fruit--especially when I think about what it would mean if I were a branch of the vine that is Jesus--I think of the verse in Moses, which declares that God's purpose is to save mankind.  If bearing fruit means to follow Christ and to contribute to our Father's ultimate goal, then I think it means to be actively involved in the salvation of God's children.  This can be done in many ways and though I believe that this is the core function of the church organization, no church can carry the main responsibility.

In fact, when the prophets speak of those branches that do not bear fruit, they often teach that these branches serve no purpose and are to be cast off and burned.  When are we branches that do not bear fruit?  I suggest that we neglect to bear fruit when we, at best, just go through the motions of living the Gospel.  We may go to church meetings regularly and say our prayers, but we are just living.  If we are not constantly seeking out ways to improve ourselves, then we stagnate. We are likely missing the purpose of this life.

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