BYU (Brigham Young University) is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” As part of their undergraduate coursework, BYU students take multiple semesters of spiritually uplifting, stimulating religion classes.
In this series (see below), students enrolled in scripture study classes have shared their thoughts, insights, and reflections on the Book of Mormon in the form of letters to someone they know. We invite you to take a look at their epiphanies and discoveries as they delve into the scriptures.
In publishing these, we fulfill their desire to speak to all of us of the relevance, power and beauty of the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ and complement to the Bible. The Book of Mormon includes the religious history of a group of Israelites who settled in ancient America. (The names they use are those of prophets who taught the Book of Mormon peoples to look forward to the coming of Christ—Nephi, Lehi, Alma, Helaman, and other unfamiliar names. We hope those names will become more familiar to you as you read their inspiring words and feel the relevance and divinity of their messages through these letters.)
Let us know if you’d like to receive your own digital copy of the Book of Mormon, and/or if these messages encourage and assist you spiritually as well.
Mormonism: Submission to the Lord
As I thought about my favorite verses from the chapters that we studied and as I thought about what I would like to talk about, my mind went to Christmas. I know, it is February, you’re not supposed to think about Christmas and above all, Christmas music is a no-no (even though I love to listen to it all year if my wife would let me). But even still, my mind reflects to Christmas.
There is a question that I hear posed each year around Christmas time which is purposed to school our thoughts about the true meaning of Christmas— the question is: What would you give to Christ? I always picture myself as a traveler among the wise men, ducking through doorways to find the final destination, the Savior child wrapped in swaddling clothing. To Him, I might give gold, frankincense or myrrh, but I know that the question demands something different besides mere precious possessions. Perhaps, some personal commitment to be a better individual or to change my imperfections to become more like Him. The beauty of this question is that it can be asked and answered all year round (which is maybe a tragedy because it isn’t).
The Book of Mormon verses that brought on this thought speak about offering up things to Christ. Jesus Christ just before His physical ministry among the Book of Mormon peoples speaks, “And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit…” (3 Nephi 9:19-20).
Jesus was speaking to the Nephites who were of the House of Israel. They kept the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses includes sacrificing animals as part of its ceremonies. These sacrifices were symbolic of Christ. Each sacrifice was as prophecy foretelling Christ’s mission to sacrifice Himself for the world. Isaiah says, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before the shears and openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Eventually, Christ did perform that sacrifice which made forgiveness of sins possible. So to these people who have kept this law all their lives, He says to no longer perform these animal sacrifices. Christ was the last blood sacrifice to be offered. But instead we must sacrifice something else. We sacrifice “a broken heart and a contrite spirit”.
This phase is used in the Book of Mormon and is actually one of my favorite verses. I remember as a missionary I asked myself what these words meant. I came to realize that it is a sacrifice that is never fully given. There is always more of my heart, my actions, my thoughts, etc. that I can give. It is like finishing a race and asking yourself, “what’s next”? It is never done. It is personal to each of us because we all have different callings, responsibilities, lives and sins. But the requirement is the same to each of us. I am reminded of a great quote from an LDS church leader Elder Neal A. Maxwell. He says, “…when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” I think that is the essence of Christ’s words, “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” It means being 100% willing to do whatever He wants.
It is this willingness that will bring us the changes, experiences, and faith that are worthy of those counted with God in heaven. It is this willingness that brings those to be baptized into the Lord’s fold. It is this willingness that will bring us true happiness and freedom on this earth. It is by simply following Christ.