Sunday, March 8, 2015

Neal A. Maxwell on becoming more Christlike through mortal challenges

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Mortality presents us with numerous opportunities to become more Christlike: first, by coping successfully with those of life's challenges which are 'common to man[kind]' (1 Cor. 10:13). In addition, there are also our customized trials such as experiencing illness, aloneness, persecution, betrayal, irony, poverty, false witness, unreciprocated love, et cetera. If endured well now, 'all these things' can be for our good and can 'greatly enlarge the soul,' including an enlarged capacity for joy (D&C 122:7; D&C 121:42). Meek suffering often does the excavating necessary for that enlarging! My admiration goes to my many spiritual superiors who so exemplify for us all. In the world to come, to these, the most faithful, our generous Father will give 'all that [He] hath' (D&C 84:38). Brothers and sisters, there isn't any more! ... 
"Christ paid such an enormous, enabling price for us! Will we not apply His Atonement in order to pay the much smaller price required for personal progress? (see Mosiah 4:2). Being valiant in our testimony of Jesus, therefore, includes being valiant in our efforts to live more as He lived (see D&C 76:79)." 
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ," Ensign, November 1997, p. 22
Click here to read the full article

When Elder Maxwell gave this marvelous talk, he had recently been undergoing treatment for cancer and appeared to be in remission; he talked during his message of the "delay en route" that he had been given, an opportunity for some continued experiences in mortality that would enable him to become further refined and perfected. The talk included many suggestions of ways the Savior's experience of the Atonement can be personally applied in our lives and experiences. The entire message is very powerful and much recommended.

In this excerpt, Elder Maxwell focuses on how the challenges of mortality can be used to "become more Christlike." Those challenges are often very "personalized" to each one of us, and can include things we sometimes don't put in this category, "trials such as experiencing illness, aloneness, persecution, betrayal, irony, poverty, false witness, unreciprocated love, et cetera." What an interesting list! For each of these and many more. Elder Maxwell encourages "meek suffering" (a beautiful, profound phrase) that will enable our souls to be greatly enlarged.

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