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Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 5: Envision the Real Yeshua


Where were you when JFK was assassinated? Where were you on 9/11? Where were you...on The Perfect Day?

Chances are, it’s your heart’s sincerest desire to see Yeshua. To be in His presence, to see His face, to touch His nailprints. To bathe His feet with your tears.

It IS the Perfect Day. A day that will mean more to you than any other date on the calendar. A date that, when contemplated, brings tears to your eyes. For you, it’s undoubtedly the holiest day of your life. The date you were reborn.

It’s also a date when you discover something about He who created the oceans, the trees, the platypus and freckles: He has an awesome personality. He loves -- and I mean LOVES -- to add life and light to every word, every syllable, He speaks.

But there’s something else about meeting Him, dialoguing with Him, just...BEING with Him, that will endear Him to you in ways you hadn’t even considered.

It’s His personality.

It’s no secret, it’s no mistake, that Yeshua is called the light and life of the world. His personality is unlike any you have ever encountered in your life, because chances are, all the people you’ve met have been or are mortals. But His personality is that of a God. And it is so bright, so full of life, so technicolor, that you will be forever changed by it.

The importance of knowing Yeshua


Unfortunately, and as I’ve said several times on this blog, it’s been my observation that most of us know about Yeshua, but very, very few actually know Him. And that’s a problem, because no matter high up your church calling is, and no matter how spiritual you may be, if you don’t know Him, you will be cast away from Him:
“And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:30-33 JST; emphasis mine)
D&C 112:23-26 also says:
"And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord." (D&C 112:23-26; emphasis mine)
In my opinion, the Lord here is discussing the first ones to be sifted out and cast aside at the beginning of the pre-millennial tribulations: He starts in HIS house, and first among those in the house are they who profess to know Yeshua’s name, yet don’t know Him.

Again, we see a distinction made between those who know His name and those who actually know Him.

So with those quotes in mind, let me ask you: How well do you know the Lord?

Yeshua’s personality


So, if you don’t know Yeshua, where do you start? Luckily, Joseph Smith had that answer:
“It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another.
If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being He is-if he will search diligently his own heart-if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle." (Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, IL Conference, April 7, 1844)
The scriptures also give us some insight into Yeshua’s personality. On both sides of the world, Yeshua said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 3 Nephi 9:18).

Now, when I hear that someone’s the light of the world, I don’t envision someone who’s dark, gloomy, moody, always depressed, despondent, low-spirited or sad. Neither would He be emotionless, passionless, expressionless, cold, unexpressive, aloof, flat or just plain old spaced out.

But that is precisely the image of the Savior we have been and continue to be continually exposed to.

Here’s a fun little exercise: Which words match which pictures? Draw a line between the words on the left (synonyms for “joyous”) and the pictures on the right (which are pictures commonly found on websites and social media). Feel free to take your time as you work through this.

beaming
blissful
bright
bubbly
buoyant
cheerful
cheery
content
contented
delighted
ebullient
ecstatic
effervescent
elated
exuberant
genial
glad
gleeful
good-humored
gratified
grinning
happy
hopeful
in good spirits
in high spirits
jolly
jovial
joyful
joyous
jubilant
laughing
lighthearted
merry
on cloud nine/seven
optimistic
overjoyed
positive
radiant
smiling
sunny
thrilled
upbeat

So, how did you do? How many lines were you able to connect between the words on the left and the pictures on the right?

Why is it that some of our most popular images of the Savior depict Him as emotionless, dispassionate, perturbed, sad or mad? Could those be true depictions of our Savior?

If you found this a little challenging, let’s start over, beginning with some quotes regarding Yeshua’s true personality:
  • “God is full of energy, and should we mortals stand in his presence, unless his spirit was upon us to protect us we would be consumed. That is how much energy there is in a celestial body.” (Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, “Seek Ye Earnestly,” 1970, p. 275)
  • “I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is—the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, “I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.” That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man.” (Elder Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 4:222)
  • “You have heard me say that I felt joyful, funny, and jocular, according to the portion of the Spirit of the Lord I enjoyed. Do I feel like dancing and jumping? Yes, and like doing everything else that is good and comfortable. When I have the Spirit of the Lord, I feel so; and that makes me think that my Father in heaven felt so before me.” (Elder Heber C. Kimball, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, June 7, 1857)
  • "The Lord wishes to establish a closer and more intimate relationship between Himself and us" (Pres. Lorenzo Snow, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Aug. 15, 1882, p. 1)
  • “And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face;” (Moses 7:4)
  • “Jehovah … talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner....." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 171)
Now, based on this new information, let’s try this again. Which words match which pictures? Same words, different pictures (to match these descriptions of Yeshua’s personality):

beaming
blissful
bright
bubbly
buoyant
cheerful
cheery
content
contented
delighted
ebullient
ecstatic
effervescent
elated
exuberant
genial
glad
gleeful
good-humored
gratified
grinning
happy
hopeful
in good spirits
in high spirits
jolly
jovial
joyful
joyous
jubilant
laughing
lighthearted
merry
on cloud nine/seven
optimistic
overjoyed
positive
radiant
smiling
sunny
thrilled
upbeat

As latter-day saints, we are exposed to a curriculum, for the most part, which emphasizes Yeshua’s teachings and what He did for us, and not so much about how Jesus felt and the emotions that He had. The fact that He was and is the “light of the world” (John 8:12; 3 Nephi 9:18) is undeniable. The fact that we have forgotten that truth is inexcusable.

Clearly, we latter day saints need to change our orientations, and fast. Elder Holland stated,
"The Lord has probably spoken enough . . . 'comforting words' to supply the whole universe, it would seem, and yet we see all around us unhappy Latter-day Saints, worried Latter-day Saints, and gloomy Latter-day Saints into whose troubled hearts not one of these innumerable consoling words seems to be allowed to enter. . . . On that very night [of Gethsemane], the night of the greatest suffering the world has ever known or ever will know, [the Savior] said, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid' (John 14: 27). I submit to you that [this] may be one of the Savior's commandments that is, even in the hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints, almost universally disobeyed." (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Happy Like Jesus”, D. Kelly Ogden, Author)

Decision time


None of us know when the Lord will start implementing D&C 20:37. We don’t know when bad things will be happening “upon my house”. But the scriptures make one thing pretty clear: you procrastinate turning to the Lord at your own peril. If other things take a higher priority, a higher precedence than Yeshua, then don’t be surprised when you’re found undeserving of inclusion into His Terrestrial Kingdom. I like what Sheri Dew once said: "It simply isn't possible to be a disciple of someone you don't know." (BYU Women’s Conference address given May 1, 2014)
“For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13)
I invite you to get to know Yeshua. As you show interest in Him, He’ll show greater interest in you (D&C 88:63). Here are four easy things you can do:

1. Start with something easy. 

Scrub your home of images depicting a Savior in a way that’s incompatible with what the scriptures say about Him and perpetuate a distorted view of Him. Replace those pictures with ones showing a Jesus who’s the light and life of the world.

Now, I need to make one thing clear. I don’t think for a second that Jesus was smiling, joyous and gleeful 100% of His mortal life. The scriptures tell us that Yeshua was also a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Yet I do think that He had a naturally cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured disposition. How could He not, with the spirit of the Father accompanying Him during His mission?

But replacing pictures is only the beginning. We also need to replace these distorted impressions we’ve had of Him which exist in our minds and souls, for possibly decades, with new ones which are more accurate. This will likely require some time and effort. But it’s been my experience, and the experience of dozens more I know personally, that the payoff far exceeds what you’ll have invested into these efforts.

2. Do something fun.

Watch some fictional TV episodes which portray Yeshua in a whole new -- and far better -- light.

I’ve long been a big fan of the 1999 “Jesus” miniseries, starring Jeremy Sisto in the title role. However, there is a new video series out about Yeshua. It’s called “The Chosen,” and it’s by far the best video production I’ve ever seen which depicts a Savior you’ll always want to be around. Although it’s not produced by the church, many church members are involved in the series, including its executive producer.

Get to know the series via its Youtube channel here, then download its mobile app in the Apple or Google Play stores (which allows you to watch all eight episodes for free, and even stream to TV). You can also order the DVDs. No matter how you watch it, you’ll experience a brand new -- and far more accurate -- Yeshua.

3. Show God you’re serious about knowing Him.

Probably the best book I’ve ever read that effectively addresses Christ's personality is John Eldredge's book (and Youtubes of) "Beautiful Outlaw". Here are the videos, in order:

Beautiful Outlaw

Overviewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG_J6J4GICU
Chapter 1: The Playfulness of Godhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmUK0-mwMsk
Chapter 2: The Missing Essential -- His Personalityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIZqExZGOUo
Chapter 3: Is Jesus Really Playful?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jaopP-8eSY
Chapter 4: Fierce Intentionhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0J8umh8sls
Chapter 5: The Most Human Face of Allhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aFXDGAChPE
Chapter 6: Extravagant Generosityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHPiz6uoIhk
Chapter 7: Disruptive Honestyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUhnRzfqlso
Chapter 8: A Scandalous Freedomhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcKWMx_X1Y0
Chapter 9: Cunninghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz2OoCCqwUI
Chapter 10: Humilityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkuZHKwuM5Y
Chapter 11: Truenesshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqfW9NBbzxQ
Chapter 12: Beautifulhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh42R_MW-GM
Chapter 13: Loving Jesushttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYfOblPC_q0
Chapter 14: Letting Jesus Be Himself -- With Youhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT5eqwjpEyQ
Chapter 15: Clearing Away the Religious Foghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9WfgpLFeFY
Chapter 16: Letting Jesus Be Himself -- Encountershttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z60dN2g94k
Chapter 17: Letting His Life Fill Yourshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tehcCQXuhLo
Epilogue: One Last Thoughthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJkguqEt7Ho

4. Hang out with people who are actively seeking to know Him.

A little over two years ago, we started a Facebook group which solely focuses on better knowing and being like Yeshua. To our knowledge, it’s the only one of its kind which is based on the latter-day restored gospel. Because of its focus and moderated dialogues, many people who aren’t even on Facebook to their friends and family just subscribe to this group, and that’s it.

I couldn’t be more proud of our subscribers, and especially the group’s admins and moderators. Everybody in this group enthusiastically participates and wants to help each other get closer to Yeshua.

I invite you to join our group. Just click here to get the ball rolling!