Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Doctrine of Christ and Becoming as a Little Child (Part 2)

Still prepping for the lesson I'll be teaching in Church on the Doctrine of Christ.  Becoming as a little child is something Christ includes as part of his Doctrine.

3 Nephi 11: 37-38:  And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.  And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

I haven't found becoming as a little child to be something guaranteed or automatic because you show up at Church or belong to a Church that you feel is superior to other churches.  So... with that in mind I wanted to write down some impressions and ideas (mostly for my own benefit) of what this entails and how I can actually do or become "as a little Child".

Becoming as a little child is a "must" in Christ's words.  To share a bit of my own testimony with this, there are problems in life that I have found are solvable by doing as Christ said.  The scope of this is far greater than I'm able to convey in this short paragraph.  So I'm only going to sum it up which doesn't do justice to what I'm saying.  It's only a glimpse.  Certain walls get erected inside the heart during childhood.  Beliefs form at that age that dramatically affect a surprising amount of our everyday adult lives.  To take down those walls or to open the doors of our hearts and minds that were shut in childhood, we must go back in order to go forward.  It involves going back to the time, attitude, viewpoint, and heart when the walls were created, and with new understanding allow God open the doors of our heart, and take down the walls that shut him out.  Removing old false beliefs that are false.  The mind and heart can then expand and grow and swell with new light. There is a lot more to say on this..... but the post will be too long.  The point is, becoming as a little Child unlocks doors.

The natural "man" (as opposed to child) is what needs to be put off according to King Benjamin's address.  I have a pretty good understanding of what those things are.  I'm good at almost all of them as an adult.  But the focus of Christ's doctrine is on what TO become, rather than what not to do.

Other things that come to mind is the humility of a child.  They want to learn.  Good examples of an empty cup, which they desire to fill with knowledge. They don't know a lot but don't inherently feel stupid about it either, so they just ask and seek and knock.  Sometimes loudly.  Little children are easy to entreat.  They believe you when you tell them something.  Their methods of learning are not judged.  Doesn't matter if it's by putting it in their mouth, blabbing, spitting, trying again and again, risking embarrassment, or just by trusting dad when dad says the bulky annoying harness will keep them safe as they go down the zipline.  They will learn in a variety of ways usually with a degree of excitement, not shame. They trip, but don't yet have the part of them that self-criticizes.  They just try again and don't look around to see who saw them trip.

They question a lot, sometimes over and over and over until I can't take their questioning anymore.  Persistent.  They don't seem to have a need to judge people, their need seems to be to understand rather than judge.  They want to understand why people look or act different than they expect or are used to.  Form them, loving is easier than judging.

Then there's the little kid attitude of having to do everything by themselves.  It can be obnoxious, and yet.... the impulse helps them learn and develop a healthy sense of their own ability and capacities.  

They are trusting, and more easily accept things with faith.  My kids trust what I tell them, they are inherently believing.  They don't struggle as adults (myself) seem to do to exercise faith in something that hasn't yet been part of their direct experience.  Little children are simple, and view life in simple terms.

They let things go quickly and easily, little children seem to more easily forgive, and when little they don't spend time guarding against your potential to cause them more problems.  They just let it go. They are happy, and take time to be silly and laugh and play.  They come with joy, we sometimes call them "bundles of joy".

Mosiah 3:19 talks about childlike qualities.  Meek, submissive, patient.  I read these not as submissive to man.  But submissive to God.  As Christ was.

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Jumping topics for a second, but which will tie in.  If you got to choose who was to be your judge in some important matter who would you choose?  Someone who knows you well, right?  Not necessarily someone who is ignorant of your flaws, but someone who understands them and would treat them kindly.  Someone who would be merciful, right?  If you could chose to be judged by someone who was meek, and humble, patient, full of charity and was quick to forgive, that alleviates enormous stress.  There would be little to fear other than your own disobedience to what you knew was right.  You would be your own worst judge.  Joseph Smith taught that we are our own accusers.   Joseph also taught:

If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours—for charity covereth a multitude of sins.

History of the Church, 4:445.

Joseph's statement is refreshing.  Taken with Christs teaching that with what judgement we judge we shall be judged sounds like Joseph will be judged by a standard that will inspire confidence in the presence of the Lord rather than fear.  His teachings reflect the kind of qualities we are taught Christ possesses.  Also the kind of person we will hopefully be.  Christ "stands betwixt the children of men and justice"  (Mosiah 15:9).  What a beautiful image.  Christ's position induces gratitude rather than fear.

Supposing we find ourselves together on judgement day, my desire would be to offer only charity, I hope to be one who would advocate your cause, overlook errors, and petition for misunderstandings or shortcomings to be treated with kindness and pure knowledge.  Attempting to do as Joseph said and throw a cloak of charity over your sins and bring no accusation.  I would want to give all possible notice for all the effort, desire, and intent you had, whether visible to others or not, and present it, asking for mercy.

If I've felt wronged by you and still feeling unsettled about it for whatever reason, I will refrain from retaliating, and seeking vengeance and will try and settle it with humility and honesty.  Same if I have wronged you.  If I don't know you, I will assume the best of you, and assume you dealt with the struggles of life in the best way you knew how under the circumstances you were given.

Mosiah 3:20 says:

21 And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.

I think this is referring to both literal little children, as well as those who have followed Christ's doctrine and become as little children.  "found blameless before God".  Is this because they don't receive or merit any blame?  Or because they don't dispense any?  Interesting questions.  

I hope to be the type of person someone would want in their company at judgement day.  For me, that will mean something.  Living the Doctrine of Christ strikes me as directly relevant to the day of judgement because it makes you into the kind of person who can survive that day, not only by how you are judged, but because of who you are.

Continued next post.....

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