Sunday, February 1, 2009

God Loves and Helps All of His Children

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

God Loves and Helps All of His Children, by Bishop Keith B. McMullin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

I worked for a professor at BYU for a few years, and even though some time has passed, I still refer to him by his title, Dr. Jones, even though he is known to my colleagues by his first name, Norm. I sometimes wonder when I can drop the name he was known by in the years he was my professor and boss; I also wonder if I should. I don't want my respect for him to become casual if I adopt a casual reference style.

I enjoyed Bishop McMulin's talk (for content and listening pleasure; he has one of those voices that I enjoy listening to), but his concluding testimony really caught my attention:

It is with great reverence and awe that I bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. In doing so, I am reminded how careful we must be in the use of His name. While His influence, teachings, and deliverance endear Him to us, we would do well not to speak of Him as though He were the friend next door.

He then concludes powerfully, yet humbly, by reminding of many titles, roles, and names of Christ.

It breaks my heart when I hear friends and colleagues mistreat the name of God. I always want to cry out as President Kimball did, "Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile" (link to talk). Taking the name of the Lord in vain in this manner is showing no respect. However, another application of Bishop McMullin's words is the too casual attitude some adopt, particularly in their prayers. I recall a talk by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (link) where he decried the temptation to try to develop a "special, personal relationship with Christ." He said,

It is true that there may, with propriety, be a special relationship with a wife, with children, with friends, with teachers ... But the very moment anyone singles out one member of the Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion of the others, that is the moment when spiritual instability begins to replace sense and reason.

... Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.

Now, I can understand how some feel that they have a buddy-buddy relationship with their Lord, especially considering the immense gratitude that we have for the salvation and exaltation He made possible; Bishop McMullen reminded that "His influence, teachings, and deliverance endear Him to us." However, at least for the time being, let's remember the many titles, roles, and even names of Christ. These all signify the reverence we should place on Him, and His name.

I'm reminded of a verse that caught my attention while we studied in our couple scripture study recently: "Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me" (D&C 19:23).

As we learn of Christ, listen to Christ, and walk in meekness, I'm confident that we'll find awe, reverence, and respect, instead of the brazen relaxed casualness we might show to a neighbor.

After studying Bishop McMullin's words, I want to reexamine how I treat the names of deity. As I work to increase the level of respect shown in how I use names and titles, I think I'll find related increases of appreciation and gratitude. I hope I'll remember this when I conclude a talk, lesson, or testimony, and do so, with greatest respect, "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

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