Though the atonement is what will make it possible for us to ultimately become like a god, there are key scriptures that give us formulas of how to gain this gift (the greatest of all the gifts of God). Moroni 7:45 is one of them (45 - 48). 45 has a list of attributes that are crucial for becoming like a god. Godly. Godlike. That's all eternal life is: the life like that of God. But to have eternal life, we must become the way God is. We cannot have the life of God without becoming the way a god is. My brother just moved into my neighborhood (I live with my parents in a very wealthy neighborhood who represent the 1% of the world who are in possession of most of the wealth of the world). Anyway, he moved from a small government subsidized apartment to the basement of a very expensive ($1.5 million) home (also an apartment - but much nicer). He mentioned that he was excited to live in this area mostly because he will be mingling (in the ward) with those who think differently. This is probably not the best example, but it illustrates (ever so slightly) that you have to think differently and possess different attributes to live in a different way. Mostly I want to illustrate that you cannot become like a god (AKA eternal life) if you do not think like one and act like one.
We have to become godly. If we don't truly possess the attributes of godliness but expect to just get eternal life, we are like a high-school kid who just got a C- in his general chemistry class, but wants to win a Nobel Prize for formulas on activation energy or thermodynamics. This kid will have a long way to go before he can even understand what activation energy means, let alone get a Nobel Prize. This is like us.
God is like the master chemist who has infinite "Nobel Prizes in chemistry". He has studied and researched and tested and tried and published and fought for His knowledge of chemistry. Even if we are the kid with a C- in general chemistry, we can still become that "Nobel Prize" winner. But we must understand that this endowment will only come after countless hours of "study and mastery". We basically have to become one with chemistry. We have to make the periodic table of the elements our own. Memorize it back to front and be able to recreate it if needs be. It is a part of us. We would have to publish countless papers, and present at countless chemistry conferences and write a score of academic volumes on the subject. It would be who we are. No longer a mere child, experimenting with liquid nitrogen to make ice cream - but a master chemist. We become godlike (AKA have a godlike life = eternal life) when we have become one with all things pertaining to godliness. It is possible for anyone. But they have to believe that it is possible to become a master chemist - a godlike "Nobel Laureate" - if you will.
This is the closest I can get to coming up with a comparison to being endowed with eternal life. I will include more about this in the chapter called "Eternal Living" of the book Live My Gospel. You will soon be able to find more here.
Yes I watched Tangled this weekend. Yes I do love that movie. And Yes I do cry every time I watch it. I'm not your average manly man. I cry and I'm okay with that. In this movie there is a scene where Rapunzel is taken on the date of her life (the first date as well). She gets to go into the outskirts of the kingdom city. I just love the scene where, after some small children braid her very long hair, she is able to see a glimpse of who she really is.
Her whole life she is told that she is something that she is not. And then she finally sees a glimpse of herself and realizes that she is the lost princess that is the entire focus of the kingdom - and that the reason for the glowing lights in the sky was to celebrate her. Everything the evil woman (who she called mother) told her was actually a lie. And she was a princess, of royal blood. There is a moment where she sees the royal purple flags with the symbol of the sun and realizes who she is and always has been.
We all are of royal blood. We are children of a King and Queen and we have been sent into a world where everyone tells us that we are nothing special. And that staying locked up in the tower (of the world) will be safest. That we should not go out into the kingdom to find out who we are.
I believe that Satan does everything in his power to distract us from finally finding that royal flag and discovering our true identity. We all come from a royal line. We all have the potential of becoming kings and queens, gods and goddesses. But there is always that evil "caretaker" who tries to keep us in a tower away from anything that will remind us of our royal birth.
What keeps you locked up in a tower? And what has allowed you to come out of your tower and actually remember who you are? What reminds you of your heavenly self? Do you really believe that you are royal? What bogs you down? What makes you feel destined for greatness?
Here are a few things/quotes that make me feel destined for greatness:
I'd love to hear what you would say.
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today I saw an interesting interview on YouTube that happened recently (like last night). It has been causing me much inner reflection and has started a fire inside my bones for my beliefs. I love it when this happens. I'll explain why below.
Brandon Flowers was being featured on a Norwegian talk show. He appeared thinking that he would just be representing his band and talking about his music (a sort of announcement before a release of a new album on iTunes). But the show then announced that they had invited another guest: Richard Dawkins. I will not even link to him because I do not support him in any way, not even with link juice!
He is one of the world's leading (if you can say that) atheists. He is like a mix of Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and Korihor. He is an outright, ruthless, godless man. I had to study his hypotheses and theories for a class at BYU once. The assignment was an in-depth critique of his writings and it nearly made me sick. He has a completely different world view. He is an evolutionary biologist who believes that science has the answer and explanation to everything. He says that there is no room for God and that people who believe in God are simply ignorant to greater knowledge. That they haven't studied the topic (in his case - biology) thoroughly enough and that if they had gone into enough depth, they would clearly see that there was no divine designer. I have to control myself or I will really go off on how absolutely absurd this is. So I won't. All I will say is that Dawkins will be among those whose knees will bend and whose tongues will confess that Jesus is the Christ and the Creator of all.
Before I changed my major to to psychology, my major was in the sciences. I absolutely love science. It fascinates me. I love the intricacy of micro-nature and the enormity of macro-nature. If I had three lives, I would love to become a well-known scientist who DOES believe in God. That is one of my dreams along with going to the olympics and being a librarian. When I was studying the "hard-sciences" I often wondered why there were so many hard-science empiricists who forgot to believe in God or who had not included Him in their equations. So I started to make a list of those who had been hard-scientists who DID have a firm belief in God (or in some sort of greater providential force). Here are just a few from my faith:
Though I always hesitate to become a Mormon apologist, there is a part of me that wants to go up against people like Dawkins with intellectual arguments for the truth that include science. Though this may be more like when my companions would try to argue with Evangelicals and Jehovah's Witnesses in Spanish, using the Bible. No one got anything out of it other than frustration. haha.
It is good for us to have a bit of opposition to our beliefs. It just makes us stronger. I'm writing a book right now for returned missionaries. Here is a teaser from the second chapter: When our beliefs are questioned, they either fail or they are strengthened. And more often they are strengthened because we recheck what we believe and we check it with God (or at least we should). Then we come back having our knowledge of the truth that we have strengthened. That is why returned missionaries often have such strong conviction of the truth. They are constantly opposed. Hugh Nibley puts it this way:
"Long experience has shown that the Latter-day Saints only become aware of the nature and genius of their modern scriptures when relentless and obstreperous criticism from the outside, forces them to take a closer look at what they have, with the usual result of putting those scriptures in a much stronger position than they were before."
(Hugh Nibley. An Approach to the Book of Abraham, p. 40).
Like Brandon Flowers, you, and every other common and famous Mormon out there will likely be put on the spot sometime in the near future. It probably won't be up against someone like Richard Dawkins, but you will have a Korihor to face. And you will have to be ready. Are you ready? I hope so. Remember the faith of scientists, and "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." (1 Peter 3:15)
Though I was alone in my kitchen, I gave Brandon a standing ovation as I watched him on my phone while eating lunch. Way to be the Alma, and the rockstar, literally. I'll go download your songs now on iTunes.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book with this title. Many thought that it was because he married so late in life and his wife's name was Joy. It was actually not about that at all, but about his journey from atheism, to theism, to Christianity. It blows my mind that this man actually was an atheist because much of my intellectual appeal to Christianity has come from this man's pen. The big reason for his switch is because he found joy where he wasn't expecting it. It surprised him.
And the joy he found was a deep longing for something he did not have, but that he knew existed. He says that he caught glimpses of it through out his life, but never quite caught hold of the real thing. But after much exploration and a bit of help from J.R.R. Tolkien (among others), there was a moment in his life where he just all-of-the-sudden knew. And he was surprised by the joy it brought. He uses a German word to describe it: sehnsucht.
"Sehnsucht" is one of those words that just doesn't have a direct translation into English. Whatever you use to describe its definition, you have to pad that with other words and descriptions so that it makes sense. It basically means "longing", "yearning" or "nostalgia". I like this description (from wikipedia):
"It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call 'home'". This "home" feeling is something that I think we all have experienced. And like Mr. Lewis, I also believe we all long for true, lasting joy. I sure do.
But joy is such an interesting thing. One of my core beliefs is that one of the purposes of life is to have joy. Adam fell that man may be, and men are that they might have joy. That's why we are here. To experience true joy. But I believe that joy isn't as easy as getting a new pair of shoes, or getting a free Jamba Juice - though I love when that happens. It comes with a price. And the price is usually some sort of pain.
If we ask God to bless us with joy, He will, but it will likely be after our heart has been in some way wrenched. And when we arrive at that moment when we feel such a heavenly sensation, it will be much more rich because of what we went through. Joy is much more genuine and lasting because it does take a while to get there. And no one else can understand it the way we do once we arrive at joy. It's hard to explain. Trying to explain joy is a bit like trying to describe a life-changing experience. Like after I came home from a two year mission in Chile or after my time in the Holy Land. I often found mere acquaintances asking "So how was your mission?" or "How was Jerusalem?" They were well meaning, but it was impossible to really explain how those life-changing experiences were.
A Rosebush Analogy
As a teacher at the MTC I used a visual of a rosebush to explain the mission. The mission is like a rosebush. Before you get to it, you look at it, and you are amazed at how beautiful it is from a distance. You get closer and it just gets even more beautiful. Then you are surprised when you begin to walk through the rosebush. You realize that there are thorns EVERYWHERE and you wonder why you entered the rosebush in the first place! You look down and see that you are bleeding and torn all over your body. It hurts, but something inside you tells you to keep walking. So you do. You finally see the other side of the rosebush and before you know it, you are on the outside looking back. The blood stops, the wounds heal and you once again see the rosebush from a distance. And it looks even more beautiful than it did before you entered. And even though it was one of the most painful and bloody experience you have been through, you almost feel a nostalgia for that beautiful place. To me this is joy. It can't be experienced without that unique painful nostalgia.
If we want true joy, our whole life we will be entering and exiting these rosebushes. Man is that he might walk through the rosebush. Thankfully, there is someone who walks through the bush with us who has gone through the rosebush to trump all rosebushes. "I have trodden the winepress alone" He said (Isaiah 63:3). "Which suffering caused myself even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and partake--" This suffering was real and He overcame. And after His great rosebush He actually said: "my joy is full" (3 Ne 17:20) - this makes more sense that his joy would be FULL after having suffered for all mankind. His rosebush trumped all rosebushes and His joy therefore is matchless.
I am grateful for the true joy I have experienced in my life, especially recently. And for the chance to walk through the rosebushes of life. And I am grateful for the one who can fix me every time I walk through another one.
"In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)