Sunday, March 23, 2008

Constructive Thoughts: Easter

Happy Easter to all!

As the LW and I sit, surrounded by the Horde and the normal detritus from an Easter Morning, my thoughts turn to the reason behind today. We have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir blaring from the speakers of the stereo while the Horde scarfs down disgusting malted egg after disgusting malted egg. The small chocolate bunnies have already been devoured. Scraps and shards of cellophane and tinfoil litter the ground. And the blood-to-sugar ratio in the Horde’s collective bloodstream has long since tipped in favor of sugar.

Unfortunately, it is all too likely that the candy will outlast our recognition of the day’s importance.

The Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, wrote these words: “But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.” [Jacob 4:14]

In other words, the Jews fell because of their blindness, and their blindness came from looking beyond the mark. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, of the Quorum of the Twelve, said it this way: “The Jewish people . . . rejected the gospel, in part because it lacked adequate intellectual embroidery.”

What does that mean, to “look beyond the mark”? Elder Quentin L. Cook, at the time a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, taught simply “We look beyond the mark when we refuse to accept simple gospel truths for what they are.”
[Quentin L. Cook, Looking beyond the Mark, Ensign, Mar 2003, at 40]

What is the mark? The mark is Christ.

How do we avoid looking beyond the mark? In a broad sense, by seeking for the kingdom of God.

How do we do that? Jacob gives us one terrific idea, one that we can employ this very day: “Why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?” [Jacob 4:12]

On this Easter Sunday, what an exhortation to receive! What a challenge to be laid before us! Speak of the Atonement; attain to a perfect knowledge of Christ.

Follow the promptings of Isaiah:

1 HO, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live [Isaiah 55:1-3]

On this day, why not look toward strengthening our testimony and that of our children? Push away the spiritual detritus--the scraps of tinfoil in our soul--and focus upon the bread and water of life--or the wine and milk without price--rather than a spiritual chocolate, that "which is not bread" and "satisfieth not"? Accept Him, and speak words of plainness to our children. Help their vision, and by doing so, help our own.

Help them see the mark, and not look past it.

Bear your testimony to them.

Bear your testimony to them and keep it simple: God lives. Christ lives. His sacrifice, the Atonement, is the reason for our Easter celebration. He loves us, knows us, and cares for us.

Look beyond the marshmallow chickens and chocolate eggs.

Look to the mark.

Look to Christ.

And revel in the magnificent plainness of His gospel and His gift to us.

Incline your ear, hear, and Live.

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