There are various names by which reference is made to the Lord Jesus Christ. These names give us insight into different aspects of the Lord’s atoning mission. Take, for example, the title “Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.” We all have a sense of what it means to be saved because each of us has been saved at some time from something.
I remember one day as a young girl, riding my razor scooter around the church, during a scouting event my brothers were attending. Not realizing, the upcoming sidewalk had an indent, I hit the elevated concrete at a rapid speed. I proceeded to fly in the air, and I landed with the handle of the scooter shoved into my forehead. I covered my head with my hand and walked to my mother, telling her something was wrong. This was the first of this type of event to happen to any of my mother’s children, and it took her completely by surprise. Luckily, I had an uncle who lived right next door who is an anesthesiologist. He knew exactly what to do and we had made our way to the nearest hospital. That day, my parents and good doctors saved me. If I let the bleeding continue, who knows what could have happened?
This story illustrates in a personal way, how, like my good parents and doctors, Christ saves us. He saves us from physical death by having died for us, but how does he redeem us? We sometimes say things in the church that we don’t always completely understand or know what it means, and I wanted to know and understand for myself what it means to say that Christ is our redeemer. What does redemption mean?
In the Book of Mormon Reference Companion, it defines this by saying, ““To redeem” is to repurchase something previously possessed and subsequently lost by paying all indemnities associated with its repossession”.
A story in the scriptures that I think illustrates this beautifully, is a story found in Luke 17. In this chapter of The Bible, we read about the ten lepers who were cleansed by the Master.
Now, if you know much about leprosy, you know that it is a highly contagious, flesh-eating disease that can, if left untreated, consume the entire human body at a rapid speed. I learned about leprosy through my cousin, who had the opportunity to go to India and serve in leprosy colonies for a summer. Though they couldn’t do much, they did everything in their power, to slow the erosion process of this awful disease.
The thing that stuck out to me as she explained this disease was that they couldn’t do anything to stop it completely. This isn’t a disease that man can heal.
Now let’s go back to the story in the scriptures. We learn that these lepers saw Christ and had called out to him to have mercy on them and to heal them. He showed unto them mercy and healed them of this awful disease. But only one had returned to give thanks. In verses 15 and 16 it says, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks”. Jesus then asked the whereabouts of the other nine and was told that none of them had returned. Jesus then spoke of the one, saying, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (v.19). Ten lepers were healed that day, but only one was made whole.
We all came to Earth subject to spiritual leprosy. We all have it to a degree, and it is nothing that man can heal. Only through Christ, can we not only be healed, but be made whole.
So, what is the process to become healed? How do we become whole?
We all labor and serve for a reason. This is His work and His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He is our Savior and saves us from physical death, giving us immortality, and provides a means for us to obtain eternal life, by being our Redeemer.
I learned about becoming through service when I was just a young 14 year old in Mexico. At the time, many of my friends and cousins were going to Mexico to do service. I thought it would be a really fun thing to do; I thought we would get to live in the jungle, maybe see a couple monkeys, build a few houses, and come home with some cool stories. Little did I know, as I was there, I would learn one of the biggest lessons of life.
Near the end of the trip in southern Mexico, we had the opportunity to go to church with a Mayan ward deep in the jungle. On the journey up the mountain, the bus driver got lost, and if you know anything about the streets up mountains in Central and South America, they are extremely narrow, and to turn an entire bus around seems like an impossible feat. Many got sick and were throwing up, and then our bus broke down. We then proceeded to hike for 45 minutes up the mountain to find this lone chapel. When we had finally arrived, we quickly found out they had just finished their services for the day. They, however, quickly got more chairs and began their services over again just for us. It was a fast and testimony meeting, and I felt impressed to get up and bear my testimony. As I got up, the spirit had hit me like a ton of bricks. Up until that point, I had looked at this Mexico trip as a fun time, to just say that we got to all go down together to do our job and come back home. In that moment, though, I looked out at the congregation and was overwhelmed with love for these brothers and sisters. I loved them, not for what they could give me (a fun experience), but I saw them as Christ sees them. He would see them for what they are, children of infinite worth. He loves them perfectly, He died for them. He wants them to come back to live with him, just as he wants each of us to come back to live with him again, only this time, in a perfect state, just as he is perfect.
I’ve always wanted to see Christ. I always felt like that would be the ultimate, but if you think about it, everyone will see Him one day. Just seeing Him doesn’t change a person. The ultimate is not seeing Him, but having Him see His countenance in us.
One of my favorite scriptures is found in Moroni 7:48. To apply it to this, we can say, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, [come] unto the Father will all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons [and daughters] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”
So what does it look like when we have his countenance upon us? What does it look like when we are filled with his love and we are becoming like him?
In 4 Nephi, it only consists of one chapter. It covers over 200 years in one chapter. Why? Because it talks about the people after they had seen Christ in 3 Nephi. There was No contention among them as we read in verse 14. They had been changed. His love had filled their hearts. And His love filled my heart and changed me in Mexico.
That is what it is all about. He wants us to love. He has a perfect love of all mankind, and we become more like him when we serve and love. When redemption takes place in our hearts, we are not hard and critical; we are more loving, faithful, and compassionate.
In Brother Christenson’s book, The Power of Everyday Missionary Work, he teaches us how to love by describing what he calls “A Ward the Lord can trust”. He mentioned 3 wards whose conversion statistics were off the chars. The missionaries in these wards knew that all they needed to do was invite their investigators to church and the ward members would take it from there. One ward was a small branch, another an affluent ward near Boston and another a ward somewhere in Canada. All these wards were similar in their willingness to love their neighbors as themselves. Each ward had fulltime greeters at the door. Being a greeter in these wards was one of the most important and sought after callings one could have. Each would greet visitors and new members at the door and proceeded to introduce them to 20 or more people before the day was done. They understood that it was not only important to know the doctrine of Christ but more importantly to live His word. These wards treated fellow members the same way that Christ would treat them if he were there. They knew that if Christ was present at their meetings, every name would be known, everyone would feel embraced and all would be included, involved and invited.
President Ostergar had mentioned that callings are gifts. Do we look at our calling as a gift? Do we look at greeting as one of the most important callings we can do in the church? Do we treat people as though Christ was present at our meetings?
Ghandi had mentioned of Christians, “I love your Christ, I just don’t like your Christians; because your Christians act nothing like your Christ”.
Let us treat others as he would. Let us look at our callings as gifts to love and to be redeemed; to see people as Christ sees them. Let us not worship and live in our little cocoons. Let us extend our reach and love to serve and become, so that as it says in Moroni 7, when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.
I know God lives and loves us. I know Jesus is the Son of the living God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I know this is His church. I know that heaven will help us to become like he is. I testify with all the energy of my soul. I know of myself that he redeems us and makes us whole. The gospel of Jesus Christ means everything to me. It is my whole life. It is my hope and my safety, and my quest for Salvation. It is everything I want for my family, and I feel the way I do because of my Savior and his undying example and love for me. I testify and bear witness of love, I testify this is true, and that God loves us, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.