December 25, 2016
So I spent some time on Christmas thinking about what I could write today. As all of you could probably guess that my words today will be focused on the Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the center of Christmas.
Since the beginning, God has always brought light and life into the world. In the beginning, He said "Let there be light" (Gen 1:3) and "He breathed the breath of life" (Gen 2:7) into man. He has also said in other scripture that his whole purpose and glory is to bring to his children immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39). Anything that is good, happy, bright, and holy is from God. All that he has ever wanted to do is to help us be better and help us be eternally happy.
With that backdrop, Christmas is truly a time of light and life, from the lights that hang on our trees to the fullness of life and pure joy that come when we share gifts and time with the ones that we love. These traditions are wonderful and the times that we share with our families and in our church buildings are delightful. It is my hope, this Christmas season, that you have not forgotten the person who is the essence of “Christmas.” In the Book of John, Christ is described as "the light and life of men" and the light that shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not." (john 1:4-5) I hope that as you read this message, you will be drawn toward the Light. It is my hope that you can find life in Him.
To begin, Jesus is the light of the world and if we follow Him we will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life (John 8:12). He promises us a path that we can follow in a world and time full of darkness. That light is His example and His commandments. He has promised that all of those who abide in Him will not abide in the darkness (John 12:46). I think that this is an important idea. Many people that I talk with everyday say that, because of all the bad things in the world, a God cannot possibly exist. I hope that at times when we feel this way, for there are times when all of us feel that the darkness is overwhelming, we remember what the Savior has promised us. He has not said that there would be no darkness, but that we do not need to abide in darkness. And I hope that as we are all looking for that light, we will be a light to the people around us just as Jesus was a light to all of us (Matt 5: 14-16).
Second, Jesus is the life of the world. He is the living bread that we can eat so that we will never die (John 6:51). Through Him we can all be resurrected and be fully healed of all of our infirmities. These blessings are not reserved only for those who have strong faith in the master, but are given freely to anyone who will reach out and take them. Again, these promises of healing and eternal life do not mean that there will not be times when we are afflicted physically, for we are all mortal and we will be afflicted just as he has been afflicted. But we can all gain hope in a day that will come in which all of that suffering will have an end (Rev 21:4). All that He has asked us to do is to ease the burdens, in a small way, that others must hold (Matt 25:35-26).
Having a knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ changes everything about our lives. It changes the way we feel towards other people (Matt 22:39) and ourselves (Romans 8:16). It changes our actions and gives us a desire to follow Jesus Christ (John 13:15). And it changes our perspective towards the world and the trials of our lives (John 16:33). If we want peace and this change of attitude, the formula is simple. It is not easy, but it is simple. Every person who followed Jesus when He was alive, from the most educated Jew to the most simple fisherman, first listened to His words. They then acted on his message. In modern revelation, the Savior says this, "Learn of me, listen to my words, walk in the meekness of my spirit, and you shall have peace in me"(D&C 19:23).
In my opinion, Christ doesn't care very much were we stand currently, but He cares very much about where we are going. For, we have all sinned (1 John 1:8) and we are all imperfect. We have all done good in our lives and we have all made mistakes. So, there are some of us who need to stop being complacent regarding the things that we have done, but on the other hand there are those of us who need to forget the past and to quit dwelling on our mistakes. Even the great apostle Peter was hesitant to accept the Savior’s call to come to him and said "Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8).
Each person's path to follow the Savior will be different, but each will always start with humility and a desire to change. For those of you who know little to nothing about the Savior, a good place to start would be to read his words. You may not understand now, but I know that whatever your challenges are, something that the Savior said will help you. I know the words are old and that they are from a past day, but the principles and the counsel that He gives will guide you to a higher plane of living and will bring you true peace and stability. There are those of you who may know a little about Him or who have even followed him diligently in the past, but who have strayed from His path. His counsel for you is simple "Repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (Acts 26:20). There are also those who are on the path and working hard to follow Him. I hope that you follow his counsel and pray for the ability to stay on the path and help the people around you (Luke 22:32).
I know that the Savior, His teachings, gospel, and example, can be the sure rock that we can build on that never will fail. I know that because of His sacrifice we will all live again and we will all have a chance to be eternally happy. I know that through His power and grace, there is no permanent failure, and that our failures will be turned to success. And most of all I know that the Savior loves us regardless of where we are today. I bear witness that He is the light and life of the world, a light that is endless that can never be darkened and a life that is endless that there can be no more death.