The Love of Christ

I’m sorry to all of my readers who may have been waiting for a new post, but this last week was a bit crazy. First of all, I have a new calling at church as of the beginning of April which has me doing a lot of study and prep outside of my planned personal study. I am now teaching Sunday School for the 13-14 years olds. It is a bit of a challenge for me and until I can get a system figured out, I will most likely be posting one (maybe two) time(s) a week. In addition to that, I gave a talk yesterday, which had me super busy. I figured I would post it, seeing as how this made up a lot of my study this last week.

I get asked all the time about what made us decide to move to Idaho, and to Meridian specifically, so I figured I’d tell our story. In the summer of 2010, we visited my best friend who lived in Kuna, Idaho at the time. Then a few months later, my husband told me he had the feeling we needed to move to Idaho. Even though I was sure I was a California girl and that we would never leave, the spirit confirmed to me immediately that it was where we were supposed to be. We decided that our girls and I would move up after the school year and live with my best friend’s family while we saved up some money. So last June, we left our families and headed up here. Meanwhile, my husband stayed there to work and help his parents fix up their rental home. In August, the girls and I moved with my friend’s family from Kuna to Meridian. A few weeks later, a sister in our new ward called to say that she woke up that morning with the inspiration to tell me about a job opening possibly for my husband, whom she didn’t even know. She had already called the business and they had told her they were already down to their final choices, and weren’t looking for any new applicants. She told me that she felt like he should send in his resume anyway, which he did and by the end of the day they were in contact with him. He got the job and was able to join us at the end of October, which was two months before he was planning on coming. In addition, we were blessed to be able to buy our own place and move into it this February. This past year and a half has been a challenge for us, but through it all we could not help but see the Lord’s hand in our life and feel the great love he has for us.

The topic I was given was the love of Christ. I love the songs in the Children’s Song Book. One of those songs is “I Feel My Savior’s Love”, which says the following:

I feel my Savior’s love in all the world around me. His Spirit warms my soul through everything I see. I feel my Savior’s love; its gentleness enfolds me, and when I kneel to pray, my heart is filled with peace. I feel my Savior’s love and know that he will bless me. I offer him my heart; my shepherd he will be. I’ll share my Savior’s love by serving others freely. In serving I am blessed. In giving I receive. He knows I will follow him, give all my life to him. I feel my Savior’s love, the love he freely gives me.

Everything that Christ has ever done has been because of His love for us and for our Father in Heaven. His love was displayed as he helped to create this beautiful world we live in. His love was shown throughout the years before he came to earth, as he preserved and guided the children of Israel. We have great examples of His love from the records of his ministry in the old world. We read what the Savior said of himself in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” His love was made perfect or complete, as he gave the greatest sacrifice ever given for mankind, the atonement. This perfect love has been shared since His resurrection, as he has visited with His many people, including the Nephites who were blessed and ministered to personally by Him. It was shown to a young boy of 14, who had a desire to know what was true, and was given the amazing opportunity to restore His church upon the earth. He continues to give us of His love even today.

The love of Christ, is truly a perfect, whole, complete and pure love. The greatest thing about it, is that he gives is freely to us, so that we may choose to receive it. Once we receive his love, we have the opportunity and duty to share it with others. The Bible Dictionary teaches us about the love of Christ. It says that “The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, [which is] not merely affection [is] the pure love of Christ”, and we commonly refer to it as charity. We have been given a commandment, which we read in 2 Nephi 26:30, “the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love.” Elder C. Max Caldwell gave a talk in the October 1992 conference, in which he said the following:

The phrase “love of Christ” might have meaning in three dimensions:
[First] 1. Love for Christ
[Second] 2. Love from Christ
[Third] 3. Love like Christ”
First, love for Christ. This concept proclaims Jesus as the object of our love, and our lives should be an external expression of our gratitude for him. . . .

When we accept Christ into our lives, do we live in a way that shows him we are grateful for all that he has done for us? He gives us His love at all times, but I wonder how often I only show gratitude to Him when things are going well. When things are good, its easy to feel the love and have love in return. I tried something a few years ago, that ended up being a really good experience for me. I wanted to keep a gratitude journal of sorts, but I decided that instead of writing down the things that I could immediately recognize as blessings I was grateful for, I would think about those things that seemed like trials and difficulties. I would only write why I was grateful for those things in my life. It really caused me to recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in my life that had been easy to overlook. Through this experience, I was able to feel a greater love towards my Savior on a regular basis. If we take the time to recognize our love for Christ more often, the way we live will reflect that.

The second meaning that Elder Caldwell spoke of was love from Christ. The Savior has given us his love. His hands are outstretched to us and it is up to us to accept Him and allow the power of his love to act in our lives. In Alma 19:36 we read, “And thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them; and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name.” The power of his love, is made possible through his atonement, which will not do us any good without our choice to receive it. We choose to receive it by willingly obeying the commandments, being worthy of the atonement, and then applying it. If we allow the love of Christ to sanctify us, we will be better prepared to share His love with others.

The third meaning that Elder Caldwell shared was love like Christ. I think that this is the way that the love of Christ is able to be accepted by people, everywhere, no matter what they believe. We love like Christ by living how he lived. His life cannot be described accurately without the word love. How then, should we live? Christ ministered to, blessed and healed those who were in need. One of my favorite examples of this, is when he was with the Nephites. In 3 Nephi 17:5-7 we read the following:

5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

To love like Christ, we should be willing to recognize the needs of others and help in whatever ways we can.

Christ helped others, no matter who they were. One example is when he sat to eat with the publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:10-13). When the Pharisees asked his disciples why he would do this, Jesus explained that he needed to be among those who needed him most. It is easy to serve those who we associate with most often, but is that truly where we are needed the most? Do we choose not to help people because of who they are?

Christ allowed others to serve him, as he did the woman who came to him and washed his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them and anointed them (see Luke 7:36-50). It did not matter who she was, he let her do this thing, to demonstrate his love for her. We love like Christ, when we graciously and willingly accept the service that is done for us.

He mourned with those who mourned and comforted those who needed comfort. When Lazarus had died and his sister Mary wept for him, it says that the Savior “groaned in the spirit” and he wept (see John 11). We can show others the love of Christ, when we are there for them in times of loss and heartache.

He taught the gospel to all who would listen, and was a witness of His Father at all times. When I think of how we can share the love of Christ with others when we share the gospel, I am reminded of how many return missionaries I have heard talk of how much they loved the people they served and shared the gospel with.

Christ bore all of our burdens of sin, guilt, sorrow, sadness, pain, and more, as he suffered the atonement. We learn from Alma in Mosiah 18, that part of the covenant of baptism is that we are willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light. We may not be able to take away the pain of another, but there are plenty of things we can do. I have been helped by the smallest things in my times of need – a smile, a hug, help with my girls, even a note of encouragement. These things have all helped me to feel like my own burdens were lighter.

He gave everything he had to give, even his life, for others. In 1 John 3:16 we read, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” We are probably not going to be expected to lay down our lives for another, but we need to have the attitude of giving all that we can to save another, physically or spiritually.

Christ showed his love when he forgave those who wronged him. Even in his final hours he said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)” We love like Christ, when we fully forgive others for the things they do against us, even if they are not sorry for it.

We love like Christ when we are willing to follow his teachings. In the sermon on the mount found in Matthew 5:39-40, we read the following:

39 . . . whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

Then, in verses 44-45 he goes on to teach the following:

44 . . . Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

I found a story relating to this. The Prophet Joseph Smith had taught the early saints that they should “love others, even our enemies as well as friends.” One of those who heard this had had his own experience with this lesson, which President Howard W. Hunter shared in the April Conference of 1992. He said the following:

After his father became ill, Vern Crowley took responsibility for running the family wrecking yard although he was only fifteen years of age. Some customers occasionally took unfair advantage of the young man, and parts were disappearing from the lot overnight. Vern was angry and vowed to catch someone and make an example of him. Vengeance would be his.

Just after his father had started to recover from his illness, Vern was making his rounds of the yard one night at closing time. It was nearly dark. In a distant corner of the property, he caught sight of someone carrying a large piece of machinery toward the back fence. He ran like a champion athlete and caught the young thief. His first thought was to take out his frustrations with his fists and then drag the boy to the front office and call the police. His heart was full of anger and vengeance. He had caught his thief, and he intended to get his just dues.

Out of nowhere, Vern’s father came along, put his weak and infirm hand on his son’s shoulder, and said, “I see you’re a bit upset, Vern. Can I handle this?” He then walked over to the young would-be thief and put his arm around his shoulder, looked him in the eye for a moment, and said, “Son, tell me, why are you doing this? Why were you trying to steal that transmission?” Then Mr. Crowley started walking toward the office with his arm around the boy, asking questions about the young man’s car problems as they walked. By the time they had arrived at the office, the father said, “Well, I think your clutch is gone and that’s causing your problem.”

In the meantime, Vern was fuming. “Who cares about his clutch?” he thought. “Let’s call the police and get this over with.” But his father just kept talking. “Vern, get him a clutch. Get him a throwout bearing, too. And get him a pressure plate. That should take care of it.” The father handed all of the parts to the young man who had attempted robbery and said, “Take these. And here’s the transmission, too. You don’t have to steal, young man. Just ask for it. There’s a way out of every problem. People are willing to help.”

Brother Vern Crowley said he learned an everlasting lesson in love that day. The young man came back to the lot often. Voluntarily, month by month, he paid for all of the parts Vic Crowley had given him, including the transmission. During those visits he asked Vern why his dad was the way he was and why he did what he did. Vern told him something of their Latter-day Saint beliefs and how much his father loved the Lord and loved people. Eventually the would-be thief was baptized. Vern later said, “It’s hard now to describe the feelings I had and what I went through in that experience. I, too, was young. I had caught my crook. I was going to extract the utmost penalty. But my father taught me a different way.”

We love like Christ, when we choose a different way, a better way, Christ’s way.

The Savior showed his love for God, as he was obedient to every commandment he was given. He has given us commandments as well and we can love like Christ by following them. In John 13:34 we read, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

President Hunter said,

The world in which we live, whether close to home or far away, needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. It provides the only way the world will ever know peace. We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution. In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us.
. . . Those who are filled with the love of Christ do not seek to force others to do better; they inspire others to do better, indeed inspire them to the pursuit of God.

As followers of Christ and people who covenant to take his name upon us through baptism, we have a duty to have a love for Christ, accept the love of Christ, and then to love like Christ. I have been so blessed to recognize the love of Christ in my own life. I am so grateful for those people who have shared it with me. It seems like every time I have noticed that I am loved by the Lord, has been when someone has been inspired to do something for me or my family. I know that their is power in our sharing His love with others.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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