Thursday, March 29, 2012

Have ye spiritually been born of God?

Have I spiritually been born of God? I'm not sure. Alma asks a lot of questions! Fifty to be exact. I think it would be interesting to ponder of his questions one by one. It would take awhile, but I think it would be worth taking the time to really examine what is in my heart.

Have I spiritually been born of God? There has always been something about me that has sought to do good. I remember wanting to be baptized as a little kid. I would ask everyone around me if they had been baptized. Before I was even baptized, I would pray to my Heavenly Father. Somehow I knew who God was and that if I prayed to Him, He would help me.

Finally, when I was 13, I was baptized in a baptist church in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I was "saved" a few days or weeks before then. I don't remember much about it except I had the best night's sleep ever and I was unbelievably happy the next day. I finally felt like I was in a good place.

When I moved to my mom's I tried going to a baptist church, but it just didn't feel right. Over the next few years, I decided to take steps to become a member of the Catholic Church. My mom is Catholic, my grandmother is Catholic, and a whole bunch of my family is Catholic. I figured I should be Catholic. I took my first communion at 15, and I was able to take communion at mass after that. I felt like I belonged there. I was confirmed when I was 16, but shortly after that I sat in on a missionary discussion. Long story short, I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 17 and I haven't looked back.

I don't recall a specific moment where I can describe as being "born of God." My spiritual life has been a process. I worry sometimes that I only do right, or try to keep the commandments, because I want stuff. I want the promised blessings. I'm not sure that I would be so willing to be good if I got absolutely nothing for it. Sometimes it feels like I get nothing, but I know that's not true. I can be worthy of a temple recommend if I keep the commandments. I have been sealed in the temple to Robbie and Lily is sealed to us for eternity because she was born in the covenant. 

So what does "born of God" mean? I hear this phrase in other churches too. I hear the term "born-again Christian." What does this mean? According to Mosiah 27:25, born again, or "born of God" means to be changed from one's "carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters, and thus they become new creatures."

When Lamoni's father asked Aaron what it would take to be "born of God" in Alma 22:15 he also asked how he could have that, "wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy." This part concerns me because I feel like I have a little wicked spirit of my own sometimes. I refer to is as "my darkness." I have my own little darkness that takes root in my heart and mind that I have to fight. It's this little thing that makes me feel unhappy sometimes. I asked one of my former Relief Society presidents once if it was normal to have to fight to be happy sometimes and she said, "No." Oh. Great.

So, I am interested to find out what Romans 7:18 has to say about this little root. This is confusing, but what I think it says is that my flesh wants to do bad. If left to my own devices and without trying to control it, I would do bad things. So maybe that little wicked thing rooted in my breast is my natural man. My little darkness is my own little natural man that I have to overcome. So this verse takes me back to Alma 22:15.

Does it mean that I have to completely overcome my natural man to be considered "born of God" or does it mean that I need to be on the path of overcoming my natural man to be "born of God?" There are plenty of people content to never try to overcome their natural man. They can't possibly be considered "born of God." But what about those of us, though always falling short and horribly imperfect, who are always striving to overcome our natural man? Are we "born of God?" Is this what it means? Where we start a life of trying to be like God? Trying to be good? Trying to live righteously? If that's the case, then yes, I have been "born of God." 

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