The God of Individualized Contracts by Nate Richardson, firstname.lastname@example.org
-Read the prequel to this article titled Life is a Pickle
Video presentation of this article
-long have people made “deals” with God, promising actions for rewards
-God has many generalized contracts with man, wherein we obey foreordained laws, and receive predetermined rewards based on laws irrevocably set before the foundation of the world. (President Hinckley spoke of a couple being able to tell God that they had obeyed the law, namely tithing, and that they now stood in need of the required blessing, essentially requiring it of God because of their obedience to a specific law which merited a specific blessing.)
-there is also a doctrine of God looking upon our individual circumstances and taking into account how that modifies about abilities to understand and serve God and his plan.
-God will always load all the mercy he can into our contract, but we must always seek individual accountability rather than blaming our circumstances for our attitudes and behaviors. (President Kimbal said that it is the way of the escapist to blame your failures on parents, society, etc.)
-what’s right for one person to do may be wrong for another. We are judged not only on what we did, but why we did it. (remember in Ender’s Game how Wiggin was selected for his special mission not only because of what he did but because of WHY he did what he did. Lots to think about there.)
-we do what the Holy Ghost tells us, that is the great law of God, the daily revelation which orients us. This means that from person to person, a God-fearing life can look quite different. (sometimes God says thou shalt not kill, other times he says thou shalt utterly destroy as seen in the old testament in various occasions. Thus Nephi was justified in killing Laban, etc.)
-some people are called to live among the masses, and relate with them, and adopt many of the aspects of their culture (all within the bounds the Lord has set).
-since the body of Christ has different members, it is of definition that not all the members’ lives will look the same. Some will be compelled by the Holy Ghost to pursue academics, others to peruse business, others to building, etc. Some will be told by the Holy Ghost to make their careers mighty, and to focus spare time on it, while for others their vocation will be but a minor component of their life’s calling, and the Holy Ghost will guide them in other work they must focus on. A society has need for many different types of people who find joy in many different roles. The Holy Ghost will lead us all to the character of Christ, but it won’t lead us to the exact same circumstances and interests as others.
-Joseph Smith taught that to be saved we must do it in the same way that Christ did, namely by obedience to the God’s laws. Thankfully, part of our contract includes repentance. Prophets have taught that for us, repentance isn’t the backup plan, it is the plan. Repenting is “the best we can do”. Doing our best is what is required of us, and repenting means we are doing our best. We have tons and tons of repenting to do, and when we’re done repenting, as the days go along, we must repent even more. Hugh Nibley was known to teach that the culture and society of God in heaven is millions of miles from how ours is here, and so it is. We also can’t perform to the same level as Christ, and must repent of the silly circumstances we get ourselves into.
-my best may look different that your best. Certainly Christ’s best looks different than our best. In premortality we attained different levels of obedience knowledge and ability, but we all crossed the threshold of qualifying for earth life. (Perhaps it was like getting a grade there, and anyone with a passing grade made it to earth, even those with a D- like Hitler. Those who failed the class were rejected with Lucifer.) Now that we are here, we again do our best to cross the threshold for admission to the celestial kingdom after this life. But not only do we seek to do “enough”, we seek to give “our all” (perhaps this phase 2 (2nd estate) takes it up a notch, and the test is a bit more difficult than a mere A-F grade scale). To get to earth, the bar really wasn’t that high. Take a look around. Hitler made it, etc. But to qualify for the highest glory of God in the life to come, there are different rules to the game. It’s no longer about thresholds and lines, it’s about freewill offerings of self to God; it’s about giving yourself to serve God more so than about meeting minimum requirements. It’s about weather you will put on the character and lifestyle of God, or settle for something else. We don’t really talk about the terrestrial kingdom much because it’s the middle, no one shoots for the middle, we all shoot or the highest. In reality, we can all make it to the highest, if we set our priorities straight. Gospel instructions today are more clear than ever, and once we leave the grasp of the devil through repentance, we find that the yoke of Christ is easy, and that his burden is light. (That is what Christ said!)
-well known is the doctrine of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, wherein the early laborers get paid a penny, the same wage as the late laborers. The penny represents the gift of eternal life (becoming as God). The early laborers could think they need more pay, but you can’t get more pay than that. They may think it’s not fair that the late laborers get similarly paid as the early (meaning those who come to activity in the gospel get eternal life, not just life long faithful members), but they must realize that their early employment in the vineyard has prepared them to receive the penny, whereas the late comers will have some more things to sort out to make good use of it. Further, we must recognize that in or out of the church, we are all going through hard things in this life, and qualifying for Gods blessings. Life is harder outside of the church, as we don’t get the comforting guidance of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Those who are the early laborers are well fed spiritually, and enjoy spiritual satiation. The late comers have to experience spiritual hunger, which is the most painful sort of hunger. Let them come, and feast on the gospel of Christ, and their souls be satisfied. Let the long time laborers receive with thankfulness anyone who chooses to come and participate in not only the labor of the vineyard, but the blessings thereof. See Elder Hollands talk titled “Laborers in the Vineyard” April 2012 (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-laborers-in-the-vineyard?lang=eng).
-it seems common sense that the person being beat down by 10 thugs isn’t expected to walk away in the same shape as the person who endures a 1 on 1 combat. The battles we face in life are, for reasons known only to God, different for each of us. But God has designed this life test to try each of us. God wants us to show improvement in this life more than wanting us to overcome all things. Joseph Smith taught that salvation is in overcoming all things, but that such may not be fully attained in this life. There is much to learn yet beyond the grave. No one except Christ will have lived a perfect life. Christ is the prototype of a saved being whom we seek to emulate, but thankfully God knows our abilities and capacities, and will not require of us the same that was required at his hand.
-Some must walk daunting path of loneliness, others must brave the trials of leadership in family or other settings (family leadership exists for both parents, and older siblings, all of either gender. Leadership has never been exclusively male and patriarchal in the kingdom of God). Either of these has the ability to fully test us and prepare us for citizenship in the kingdom of God.
-while circumstances vary for everyone, the will of God includes the happy blessings of family life for all. Marriage and childbearing brings a divine joy which cannot be replaced by any other walk of life. Family settings are the foundation for experiencing all other things in life. Though not all are blessed with families when they would like, it is pleasing to God when we keep the doors open for family life, and even seek to walk there through. Family life doesn’t mean we can’t have lofty careers, be writers, be public servants, or the myriad of other pleasing ways to serve others and God. Family life will give more meaning and joy to us as we work in those roles. Family is the core of God’s plan for us his children. Everything else is auxiliary, and meant to uphold family life. The what of the center of God’s plan is Christ’s atonement. The why of God’s plan is eternal families. Without the atonement of Jesus Christ, there could be no eternal families. Why did Christ to the atonement? So we could qualify for eternal families. Everything in society is to maintain a scenario where families can be together. Family is the why of all the what. Thus we see that neglecting family for the sake of something else is really quite ironic. To look further to the future, eventually all things fall away except family relations. God is a man and his wife taking care of their children, whom we are. Ultimately, the ideal titles of the universe are husband wife and parent.
-seek a personal relationship with God, perhaps like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, where you make God a partner in your daily life, where you speak to him of all your questions and so forth. Not only can you pray often like Tevye, you can read the scriptures often like him. His heart longs for more time to study the scriptures. He loves to familiarize himself with the character of God as seen in the scriptures. Someone has said that the Devil trembles when he sees even the weakest of saints upon his knees. President Thomas S Monson was known to often pray. He prayed all the time. He needed to. None of us really have a clue what we’re doing here, we need to talk to God all the time. The favorite hymn of President Spencer W Kimball was “I need thee every hour”. Great men realize that they don’t have a clue, and that they need God’s help! Does the “hour of prayer” taste “sweet” to you?