His Name Left to Chance

I have sometimes stopped to consider what a gamble faith and subsequent discipleship to Christ really are.  If you think about it, we give up a great deal as followers of Jesus Christ.  Favorite vices, social comfort zones at church and elsewhere, personal income, the human need to understand things now, and so forth.  If we, as LGBT+ Mormons (or others), are giving up these things and more, to what end and purpose do we sacrifice and work?  Why do we persevere and endure, amid so much opposition and mockery?  I ask these questions as more than rhetorical questions, intended to push us into self-examination.  If one does not know his/her reasons for following Christ, the journey will inevitably collapse and burn in flames.  You cannot get somewhere without having a strong, resilient reason for doing so.  Whether you're a famous mountaineer scaling up Everest, a new entrepreneur blazing a new trail in business, or a rainbow-hearted Mormon striving to find peace, answers, and acceptance, you must have vision!  Today, I wish to explore a few principles that relate to having this inner vision required for discipleship.  Let's start with a scripture:

"For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miracles, signs, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name." (D&C 35:8)

What does it mean to believe on His name?  To me, one way of accurately interpreting this scripture is that you literally place your faith on the name of Jesus Christ.  Another way to say this is that His name is the only name, of the billions out there, that you rely upon and trust in. I've also mentioned the "gamble" interpretation of this earlier, because in a way we do gamble our hopes, dreams, desires, etc with God when we decide to follow His Son.  Or at least, in our perception it is a gamble, because there is no sure knowledge that things will work out. Yet, faith feels enough - at its best, that is - like a sure knowledge that we can rest in it, usually.  Speaking of things working out, the Lord gives a marvelous promise here - that He will show "miracles, signs, and wonders" to those who believe on His name.   

I look at those three words, and I have had what I believe to be an accurate insight.  These are three categories of how the intervening hand of God looks in our everyday lives.  First and most well-known are miracles.  These are when His power moves in such a powerful, visible way that only the most ignorant and spiritually blind refuse to acknowledge their reality.  We all have heard stories of miracles, I am sure, so they don't require much explanation.  Second are signs, which are not quite miraculous but nevertheless should get our attention that God is looking out for us.  Some examples might include when that certain, distressing situation worked out just in time, or when God revealed Himself to you in church or General Conference in a way that definitely was not a coincidence. Rather than a hit over the head with a stick, as miracles do, signs are more of a sharp poke from God saying, "See?  I still love you and want to help you!"  Finally, wonders are aptly named because they make you wonder in awe at God's power to make life more full and rich, with love, joy, temporal abundance, and more.  I like to think of these as a reassuring pat on the back from God, just to quietly let me know  He is still here for me, with perfect love and watchfulness.

More profound, even, than this is that Christ prefaces this promise with an assertion of His identity and supreme power as our Creator.  He declares, "I am God, and mine arm is not shortened."  Isaiah, speaking for Christ, similarly wrote, " Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver?" (Isaiah 50:2), and later answers that question in agreement with the above scripture, saying, "Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear." (Isaiah 59:1)  Why, though, is it so "deep" that Christ has here told us He is God, and that His arm is not shortened?  

I would say it's because He is stating something we all know, or have been taught in the Church - that our Savior is all-powerful, and is who the scriptures testify He is, that is, the Messiah.  Later in this same D&C passage, though, Christ delves into faith, and a promise contingent on having that faith. In believing on the name of Christ, we also know from the teachings of the scriptures that His name is the only way by which we can gain salvation (see Mosiah 4:6-8).  Additionally, according to this scripture, this salvation is the only kind of salvation there is for us.  We cannot invent any other valid salvation or conditions to obtain it, other than what the scriptures testify of.  This is why the virtue of faith is one of the most preached and thus emphasized truths in all the standard works.  It is essential to knowing, or at least hoping, that Christ can reach out with His power - that His hand is not shortened, or His ear impeded in hearing our cries to Him.  

Further down in the D&C passage, we read, "But without faith shall not anything be shown forth except desolations upon Babylon."  To me, this is a warning from Christ illustrating the consequences we will faith if we allow our faith to greatly dwindle or die.  The less faith we have, the further away from Christ we drift.  And the further away from Him we drift, the more we are entangled in these "desolations upon Babylon", which is a fancy way of saying, "suffering from being worldly".  I am reminded of the vision of the Iron Rod, in which some were drowned in the depths of sin, while others were lost, "wandering in strange roads" (1st Nephi 8:32).  

These conclusions I am drawing remind me of Hebrews 11:6, which plainly says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."  If I, as a gay Mormon man, want God to provide me with a joyful, authentic way of living the gospel, while also celebrating my sexuality, then I must believe He exists, that He will give me what I desire if I diligently seek Him, and that He will intervene in my life in various degrees.  What I cannot do is leave the name of Christ to chance in my life, that I will hopefully encounter Him  here and there, and turn to Him mostly when I am in some kind of trouble or difficulty.   This holy name left to chance, the only name by which we gain salvation in this life and in the next, cannot possibly serve me in my journey of discipleship.  It is internalizing this holy name of Jesus Christ with purpose that infuses the process of coming unto Him with rich meaning. Until my next post... love you guys! :) 

1 comment:

  1. Brother, your words are an inspiration to me!My heart swelled with joy as I read this blog! It spoke to my soul and my destination! Thank you for being inspired to share these inspired words!
    Be strong be faithful be love!
    Thank you!