Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Jesus as Advocate and Judge - and We as Advocates Only

We had a wonderful lesson in our High Priests Group, and I want to share one particular insight I had near the end of the lesson:

We talk about Jesus as the Judge, but I like another title better: Advocate with the Father. I like the framing of Jesus representing us at the judgment seat of the Father - being our advocate (defender) for mercy, with the Father being the actual Judge. I like it conceptually, but I also like the practical application that hit me on Sunday.

When we take his name upon us, we are NOT assuming his post-mortal responsibilities, including that of Judge. In fact, we are told explicitly not to judge (with a result that we won't be judged ourselves). Rather, we are accepting a place in his mortal ministry. We are doing for others what he did for them during his life and through his death. We are promising to recognize their inherent value as children of God and advocate for them. We can't do that unless we refrain from judging them, strive to understand them, and look for justifications to defend them.

In our current system, the ONLY conflict is for Bishops, since they are called Judges in Israel. However, even they can start with their responsibility to be Advocates, and then, and only then, move on to acting as Judges. This approach, if understood and followed, would result in judges and judgments that are as merciful, gracious, and loving as possible - based on understanding WHY people did what they did and not just WHAT they did. If this was our default orientation (being an advocate/defender), much of the problem we have with overzealous, Pharisaical, strict exactness and our sometimes exclusive obsession with worthiness would disappear.

I still am working out my full thoughts on this epiphany, but I wanted to share the initial impression with all of you here.

Friday, February 3, 2017

We Can Be "Atoners" in This Life

We talk of an infinite Atonement, but I have seen an example of how powerful a mortal, finite Atonement can be. 

My father's sacrifice for my mother, about which I won't write again here, allowed her to have a peaceful, joyful life despite "limitations" that could have made her life hellish. In a very real way, he laid down (set aside) his potential life and picked up a new life solely for her. In more ways than one, he suffered so she wouldn't have to suffer. We (their children) were blessed in many ways as a result, but he did it because of his deep, unquenchable love for her. 

I honor the concept of divine Atonement, but I think we focus so much on a universal, transcendent Atonement that we overlook the impact we can have when we choose to be "at-one-ers" throughout our lives. 

It is easy to be a divider. Any unprincipled person can be that. It is much harder to be a dedicated uniter and accepter and valuer and uplifter and atoner. 

I try to live my life that way, and the current political situation has made that excruciatingly difficult. I hope I can return to whom I want to be - and, in my interactions with others, be more like my dad was with my mom than any other example I have had in my life.