Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Gospel of Joy

To anyone struggling with a perception of a harsh, angry God: please consider that maybe what he actually wants most for us is joy.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Usually we listen to people give talks in church, but today was the Primary Program.

Primary is the kids' organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and during the Primary Program they go up front to sing and tell us about what they learned at church this year.

I always like the Primary Program, and not just for the funny moments like when a teacher started to help one of the 4-year-olds with his line and the mic picked him up telling her in no uncertain terms, "I can do it myself!"

What I enjoyed was that the kids wrote their own parts ahead of time on a certain gospel topic (e.g: "Jesus Christ" or "families") and it was so honest and from their hearts. 

My favorite part of this year's Primary Program was when one child came to the front and said, "Heavenly Father wants us to be safe and have fun!"

I love that, because I believe in a gospel of joy.

Everything about God's plan for us is designed to bring us joy. In fact, we call it "the plan of happiness." In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2: 25 tells us "men are, that they might have joy."

Think about it: God made more beautiful places on earth than any of us could visit in a lifetime. The vastness of the universe and the variety on the earth testifies to God's creativity and His desire for us to be surrounded by beauty. He wants us to enjoy it.

When we come to earth, we're born into families. And when we grow up we have the opportunity to go and create families of our own. I think all people, religious or not, agree that family is one of the greatest joys of life. On their deathbed, no one ever wishes they'd spent more time at the office.

The angel who announced Christ's birth to a group of shepherds said "I bring you good tidings of great joy" (Luke 2: 10.) God sent His Son to make our joy full. Through Christ we have hope. Jesus' Atonement covers every sin we've committed and every wrong that's been done to us, erasing despair and hurt and replacing it (eventually) with joy.

I also believe that the Holy Spirit communicates truth to us through joy. When I first learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a teenager, I studied it for about a year and a half before getting baptized. How did I decide to join the church?

I knew the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true because it agreed with the scriptures, it made logical sense to me, and most of all, following its teachings brought me joy. Never once has it brought me sadness or regret.

Joy is more than just happiness or entertainment. Joy is a lasting sense of well-being and fulfillment, and it comes through knowing and living the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

To those who are struggling with a perception of a harsh, angry God: please open your heart to the possibility that God is actually your Father in heaven who loves you and wants you to have joy.

For what it's worth, I believe He's constantly offering us the gift of joy and anxiously waiting for us to accept it. And that includes you.

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Anonymous said...

I'd just like to pass on another way to help spread the gospel and it's simply this:-

Include a link to an online gospel tract (e.g. as part of your email signature.

An email signature is a piece of customizable HTML or text that most email applications will allow you to add to all your outgoing emails. For example, it commonly contains name and contact details - but it could also (of course) contain a link to a gospel tract.

For example, it might say something like, "p.s. you might like this gospel cartoon ..." or "p.s. have you seen this?".

Jenny Evans said...

I love keeping some meaningful pieces of art or decor around the house that have something to do with my faith - they are good conversation starters and even better, they remind me every day what my first priority should be!