Saturday, January 29, 2011

Your Personal Restoration

In 1820, the young Joseph Smith saw God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, starting a domino chain of events that would lead to the restoration of the organization, doctrine and authority of Christ's ancient church. This restoration brought back the gospel in its purity, filling in gaps and correcting popular theologies in a way only achievable by the divine. Once completed, the modern gospel looks exactly like the old one, and is a vibrant, living pattern of revelation and salvation.

Likewise, Alma teaches that each of us will be restored: "Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself" (Alma 41:2). He continues: "Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame-- mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption" (Alma 41:4).

Alma is, of course, speaking of the resurrection. Thought of, as Alma teaches, as a restoration, we can compare our resurrection to the restoration of an old car.

The rusted frame of the old car might catch a skilled mechanic's eye as he wonders through a junkyard or drives down a lonely country road. Carefully, the mechanic will transport the old car to his garage and go to work. He will search for engine parts, a new dash, tires, seats, and mirrors. Over time, he will return the pieces of the engine to their proper places to make it run; he will install floorboards, upholstery, windows and a radio; he will sand and paint the frame-- usually with flames-- and shine chrome bumpers and hubcaps. When it is finished, the master mechanic will have restored the car to its new condition-- sometimes better than new.

So it is with us. Christ, our creator and master mechanic, has made possible our restoration through his atonement and resurrection. He wants to restore us to the presence of our Heavenly Father (Alma 42:23). But just as a mechanic cannot restore a '59 Chevy into anything other than a '59 Chevy, however, Christ cannot restore us into something we are not.

Alma explains: "The meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish-- good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful" (Alma 41:13). We could continue that list: lust for lust; joy for joy; appetite for appetite; friendship for friendship; grudge for grudge; thought for thought; etc. "And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there..." (D&C 130:2).

If we will be restored to the same creatures we turn ourselves into, the call to action is clear. Again, Alma teaches: "Therefore... see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again. For that which ye do send out shall return to you again, and be restored" (Alma 41:14-15, emphasis added).

Like it or not, we all live the golden rule. As we do unto others, even so will God, who owns all vengeance, all mercy and all that is, restore likewise unto us. And so we become our own judges, in a way, and decide our own fate. Let us choose the fate of kindness, of long-suffering, of generosity and goodness. Let us choose to be the kind of people we want to be when we're resurrected, for "all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame--mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption-- raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil" (Alma 41:4). Let us then choose to behave as though the kingdom of God were already here; for only then can we assure that we'll be here when it arrives.

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