The Character of Christ, by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve
The Character of Christ, by Elder David A. Bednar
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell has stated that without the character of Christ, there would have been no Atonement of Christ. The atonement is and was intimately linked to the supernal character of Christ.
- What is character? The sum total of the mental, moral, and emotional qualities possessed by an individual or a group of individuals, or it is the moral qualifications that have been strongly developed by an individual. It incorporates honesty, honor, and integrity.
- Brigham Young said that true faith must be centered on the Character of Christ.
- Elder Maxwell has stated: Christ gave no heed to temptations, but he faced many. He resisted all temptation “perfectly”.
- The greatest indicator of having the character of Christ is the ability to rapidly respond to another’s needs when you are facing the same or similar challenges of those other people. The desire or ability to help others when you yourself need help is the hallmark of Christ’s character and of those acquiring a Christ-like character.
- Looking and reaching “outward” is Christ-like; human nature would have us turn “inward”, look inward.
- Examples of Christ’s character:
- He had fasted 40 days, and Satan tempted him to satisfy various temporal or physical urges, misusing His godly powers. He resisted perfectly. Not only that, just after His 40 days, when He was physically and emotionally spent, he sent angels to comfort and sustain John the Baptist (see JST Matthew 4:11). With Jesus Himself needing sustaining, He thought only of John’s needs.
- During the Last Supper, just before He himself would have to endure infinite pain, He spoke of comfort and peace to His disciples (see John 14:25-27). He was soon to lose all peace and comfort, and yet He reassured the disciples that they would have both.
- During the Intercessory prayer, He prayed for God’s love to be with his disciples, when He himself would soon be in the greatest need of that love (see John 17:20-26). He focused on others when it would be the natural man tendency to focus on self. He always reached outward.
- He provided a meal for his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after they had toiled all night fishing, and this just after His death, atonement, and resurrection. He was always thinking of others.
- Emerging from the Garden of Gethsemane, He healed the ear that Peter severed, and this just after enduring endless and infinite pain Himself (Luke 22:47-50)
- On the cross, in indescribable misery, He asked John to take care of His mother, He comforted the thief, and He asked the Father to forgive the Roman soldiers.
- Can we develop the Character of Christ, the capacity and inclination to reach out when we would usually reach in? We can, but not through our own will power or determination. We do it by ACTING (char-ACT-er), line upon line, precept by precept. Jesus went about doing good; so must we if we are to obtain His character.
- Examples from Elder Bednar’s service: three teenage girls of his stake were killed in an auto accident. The mothers of two of the girls reached out to other when they were grieving themselves (concerned about other mothers, took a meal to a complaining ward member just before the funeral.)
- CHAR-acter, CHAR-ity. We must pray for, yearn for, cultivate a Christ-like character before we can be blessed with the gift of charity. We must honor our covenants.
- Be aware that the gift of charity possesses us, we don’t possess it!
- Act in such a manner that we qualify for charity.
- The first principle of the gospel is to understand the CHARACTER of God. Fight the natural man tendencies, cultivate the Christ-like tendencies.
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