After His crucifixion and death in Jerusalem, the resurrected Christ appeared to the Nephites and Lamanites who had survived the destructions on the American continent. He invited all to come forward and feel the wounds in His hands, feet and side; and to be healed by His miracle-working hands. He also blessed these people by teaching them similarly to His teachings to His apostles and disciples around Jerusalem. These teachings included His Sermon on the Mount. Well, in His “sermon at the temple” in Bountiful, His teachings were pretty much the same – just to a different audience.
The sermon at the temple, just like the Sermon on the Mount, began with the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the.., blessed are the…” We’ve heard these phrases often, but in studying them this time, we got something new from them. We looked at the Beatitudes through a talk by Scott L. Anderson at the 2000 Education Week at BYU, entitled This Life is the Time. As defined in the Bible Dictionary, “Rather than being isolated statements, the Beatitudes are interrelated and progressive in their arrangement” Following this “progressive arrangement”, let’s see how the Beatitudes can indeed apply to our lives and our progression through life. (See 3 Nephi 12:3-12 for the text of the Beatitudes.)
Blessed are the poor in spirit…Does your faith lack a strong spirit of conviction? Is there some aspect of your faith upon which you would like to improve? Identify what it is that you would like to improve, and take it through this process.
Blessed are they that mourn…Do you sincerely feel sorry for this lacking aspect of your faith – in other words, do you really want to improve your faith in this area? If so, you are simply mourning your lack of faith and endeavoring to improve upon it.
Blessed are the meek…Christ has taught that we need to possess more of that child-like innocence and become humble and teachable. We are the meek when we are so humbled and more susceptible to His spirit.
Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst…Have you ever been hungry or thirsty? Not just for the moment or the day; but stomach-rumbling, light-headed weakness from the lack of food for longer than a day? Or when your mouth is ever so parched and seriously dry because you have not had anything to drink for quite some time? When trying to improve your faith, you should REALLY hunger and thirst after the spirit of Christ and His teachings.
Blessed are the merciful…During your process – or your journey – of strengthening your faith, look around for others who might be struggling similarly to you. Reach out and help them, showing Christ-like mercy towards them.
Blessed are all the pure in heart…During this process, especially when you reach out to others, your heart will change. Your faith will be growing, just like Alma taught the Zoramites in trying an experiment of faith. As your heart swells with the success and purity of the experiment; as you reach out to help others; Christ’s spirit reaches out to you and softens your heart to become more impressionable and teachable.
Blessed are all the peacemakers…When your heart swells with this increased faith and peace, why hide it? Share this wonderful experience with others! I believe that it was President Spencer W. Kimball that said that the only emotion that the adversary cannot counterfeit is peace. When your heart is filled with this peace from Christ, open your mouth and share it with others around you. Help them prosper through this process, too.
Blessed are they who are persecuted…As you overcome bad habits; or as you improve upon your faith, the adversary will certainly do his part to discourage you and make you doubt in yourself. Instead, take courage in Christ, and work through your trials, temptations and tragedies. The persecutions will come, but with an increased faith, you can endure them and overcome them. The spirit and influence of Christ is much greater than that of the adversary.
After we have gone through this “progressive arrangement” to improve a specific aspect of our faith, guess what? Our faith will not yet be perfect. Rats!! Instead, it will be time to go through this process again…and again…and again…throughout the remainder of our lives on earth. This life is indeed the time for us to prepare to meet God. This process takes every day of our life, and we only try to be better today than we were yesterday, and maybe we can even be a little better tomorrow. By understanding the interrelation of these mini-statements in the Beatitudes, we have a map of the route to perfection at our disposal. It’s up to us to unfold that map, identify our destination, study the alternate routes to get there, and then choose the right one. Sorry, my Italian friends…but with an eternal perspective, “all roads do not lead to Rome!”