If Then or The Glory Be Thine?
If you take out the garbage then you can play with your friends. If you help me with the dishes, then I’ll go to the show with you. If you go to church then you can have the car on Monday. This is how many relationships work, it’s called bartering.
Did Jesus have an “If, then” relationship with His Father? Did He barter with Him saying, “If I go down and save all mankind then I expect you to do something for me.”
An “If then” relationship, whether it be with God or our fellow man isn’t necessarily bad though it can be limiting with regards to the depth and quality of a relationship. But, the question that compels me is, Is this the type of relationship we want to pursue with our Savior and our Heavenly Father; a relationship based on bartering?
Yes, there are many examples of “If, then” statements in the scriptures that teach about consequences, blessings and how to barter with God. And, it appears that God will honor a bartering transaction with Him to a limited degree, but is this the highest form of interaction we are meant to have with God? If so, then why don’t we see Jesus demonstrating and emulating this with His Father? Is true discipleship based on an “if, then” connection with our Father in Heaven, our Savior and our fellow man or something else?
Jesus’ relationship with His Father appears to be motivated exclusively by gratitude and love. Jesus seems to do his Father’s will, not because it is an “If, Then” moment that will qualify Him for some reward but because Jesus loves His Father and He (Jesus) has been given the opportunity to express His gratitude by serving. Jesus, without expectation or seeking personal gain steps forward, “Thy will be done and the glory be thine.” What were His motivations; not reward! There does not appear to be any “If, then” motivation in His proclamations or actions. But, there was in Lucifer’s proposal, “If I go down and save the world, then give me the glory.”
The Mosaic Law is deeply based on “If Then” and barter based transactions with God. But Christ brought a new example to the world, a new motivation, a new gospel, a new obedience and a new form of relationship for us to have with our Father in Heaven. By continuing to promote the If-then/bartering relationship with God, we perpetuate the Mosaic Law, water down faith and limit Christ’s grace in our lives.
As a Mormon I believed that I had to qualify for God’s love with my obedience (If I keep God’s commandments then I’ll get to go to heaven). But, as a Latter Day Saint in Christ’s Church I see that it is the opportunity to love God and Jesus, not what I get back from loving them. It is the opportunity to express my gratitude to God through His son for all He has done for me; not trying to hold God hostage for more blessings. It is the opportunity to love my fellow man, not what I get in return for caring. This life is my opportunity to say, “Thy will be done and the glory be Thine!” and not re-create an Old Testament relationship with God that is based on “If-then”/bartering where I think that I am somehow placing God in my debt.
By founding our relationship with God on “If then” it is easy for us to lose spiritual perspective and fail to see that it is a relationship with Heavenly Father, the Holy Ghost and our Savior that is the path to happiness; not bartering with them to accumulate more blessings.
My covenant path with God is to always remember Him and all the love He has for me, to live His commandments as an expression of my gratitude and faith in His Son, so that I can have the best relationship possible with Him.
It is the opportunity to love Him that should compel us, not what we get back. Our works in His kingdom should not be used to try to corner Him into owing us something more or trying to qualify for His love. Rather, our faith and actions should be an expression of the gratitude we feel for all that our Father and Savior have done and continue do for us. And, our works should be the symbol of our acceptance of Christ’s love and grace because our heart is filled with joy towards Him! This is what I believe the Savior has taught me through His example. This is the new relationship covenant of discipleship. The question is, do we have enough faith to enter into this new covenant or will we insist on having an “If, then” relationship with our God hoping we will somehow barter our way into heaven?