In tearful testimonies, both public and private, I’ve often heard some iteration of the following phrase: Jesus Christ would have died just for you.
While this popular saying isn’t necessarily based on scripture, it represents the idea that our Savior is full of immense love. He understands the divine worth of every single soul. It also speaks to His willingness to sacrifice; for just one of God’s children, Jesus would suffer.
We admire these attributes and glorify God for them. We praise Christ for His endless devotion to us and earnestly seek to be ministered by Him. From pulpits and social media posts, we claim that we are a people dedicated to taking on the mantle of Christ, to do our very best to emulate these sorts of characteristics, notwithstanding our weaknesses.
And yet. And yet.
Would we sacrifice something in our lives for just one person? In today’s divisive world, full of pride and the need to boast of wealth in some form, whether it be a wealth of money, power, knowledge, or even morality, it seems increasingly unlikely.
Of course, the reality of being asked to sacrifice something monumental for a single person, especially a stranger, is also unlikely. But as the Lord has repeatedly taught us, our sanctification does not occur in the monumental moments. President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “It is not so much the major events as the small day-to-day decisions that map the course of our living. Our lives are, in reality, the sum total of our seemingly unimportant decisions and of our capacity to live by those decisions.”
The building of the kingdom of God comes one day at a time, one person at a time. It is an effort we joined through sacred covenants and the principle of sacrifice is at the heart of it. In fact, it goes beyond sacrifice. It is about consecration.
In considering our covenants, we say we will consecrate all we have to God’s great work. Do we fully internalize what God’s work is? It isn’t something so vague or expansive that it eludes our understanding or is undefined in our daily lives. It is the gathering of Israel, the salvation and exaltation of each individual soul. So, we must be willing to teach the individual, love the individual, sacrifice for the individual, consecrate for the individual. Sacrifice, in its essence, is about giving something up. Consecration, on the other hand, is devoting something to a sacred purpose.
This will look different for all of us. What is required of one may not be required of another. However, we should all look within ourselves and see if our hearts have been sufficiently softened so that when the Lord calls us to put something on the altar we will be ready.
We may be asked to use the proper name of the Church in conversation, even if it’s inconvenient. Would we do it if we knew it would bring just one person to a better understanding of Jesus Christ? We may be reminded to stop hating and ridiculing, especially against those whose opinions are different than ours. Would we do it if it meant we didn’t get to share our opinion on social media? We may be asked by our leaders to wear masks during a pandemic. Will we find all of the reasons to dismiss our leaders or remember that if it was one of our family members among the dead, even one would feel too much?
It is clear the turmoil of the world will continue. The ways in which Satan invites contention and division into our lives will change but remain ever-present. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to honestly ask ourselves if we can catch any glimpse of His divine attributes in our countenance. What will we give in order to be changed like that? Whatever it is, or however uncomfortable or even infuriating it may feel like sometimes, it will be nothing compared to what He gave for us.