Monday, March 30, 2015

On my mind lately

Roya Klingner is one of the vocal advocates for gifted people in the world. She posted on Facebook today, "I use all my talents, all my time and money to support ‪gifted‬ ‪children‬ worldwide! I love what I do."  And she really does.

The quote struck me, though.

What am I using all my time, talents, and money to support? 

The concept is easy to comprehend if we have a singular purpose in mind, like Roya does. She uses everything to further the cause she believes in: gifted children.  Other people use everything to further their causes: political, intellectual, social, or whatever. 

But the thing I realized is that everyone ultimately uses all their time, talents, and money for something (or some things).  Those things--time, talent, and money--do get used up or lost. We don't really get to hoard them--time and talents, hoarded, slip away; and money ultimately can't come with us and does us no good sitting unused in a bank somewhere (we either use it or lose it when we die).

If it's going to get used anyway, doesn't it make sense to choose what we use it for instead of letting it all slip away, frittered away on thisses and thats that don't add anything to our lives--or anyone else's?

Roya's quote brought to mind this phrase from the Guide to the Scriptures produced by the Church: "The law of consecration is a divine principle whereby men and women voluntarily dedicate their time, talents, and material wealth to the establishment and building up of God’s kingdom."

So if we're supposed to dedicate our time, talents, and money (as Roya put it) to the building up (and establishment) of God's Kingdom, the question on my mind is how exactly do we go about that? That seems kind of daunting, actually. And spartan. It brings to mind giving up all we have to talk about Jesus exclusively and build a walled city of some kind.

But what is God's Kingdom anyway?  That seems like an important question to ask.

It's really easy to understand "gifted children" or "environmentalism".  But "God's Kingdom" is not as clearly defined in our world nowadays.  And how can I dedicate everything to building it if I don't understand what exactly it is?

I do not think the phrase means, for example, an actual physical city that God rules (not like the kingdom of Alfred the Great or someone like that). I don't think it's a spot on the ground.  I don't think it's a walled compound, and I don't think it means we give everything we have and are to building temples all over (even though building temples obviously is part of it) and don't do anything else.

When we consider it in the light of Zion being a name of God's kingdom, and Zion being, in the scriptures, not just the city but the people who lived there (the city of Enoch, where people were of one heart and one mind, or Zion, which is the pure in heart, the scriptures say), then it seems apparent that the Kingdom of God is built through bringing all of God's children to Him. It is the people who are the kingdom.  So to build the kingdom of God, we give our time, talents, and money (just like Ms. Klingner does to gifted children) to bringing people to God.

And what people? Probably the people around us. The people within our natural reach are usually the ones God needs us to help first. So building up my family and raising them righteously--that would be building the kingdom of God. My own little family are part of the kingdom, so all I do for them must be part of this. And my friends and neighbors and ward. They must be part, too.

And how? I think building the kingdom can be done, in my opinion, through anything that edifies and truly enriches people's lives, including art, music, good food, literature, friendship....All the good things--the truly good things--in life are gifts from God to us to make our lives rich and joyful and satisfying, including the gifts He gives us (commandments, scriptures, prophets, families, and, most of all, Jesus).  So the kingdom of God might be all the people and everything they need to have a happy, fulfilling life (including things to eat, things to wear, things to do, things to believe, places to be....)

So, I conclude, the good things we give to other people (friendship, smiles, treats, fun times, music, poetry, art, dancing, adventures, hope, love, joy, etc) that make their lives happier and bring them to God and to Jesus--these are building the kingdom of God. And so are the good things we produce, using whatever talents we have. 

Suddenly, that seems manageable. And fun. And satisfying.  Well worth the price (even though the price is everything). God is asking me to use what I have to do what I'm good at (using my talents) to make other people happy and bring them to Jesus (who will lighten their burdens and relieve their suffering--that's His promise)--which I know makes me happy, too. 

Suddenly the idea of giving everything to build the kingdom of God doesn't sound like a request for sacrifice, but another hint in this eternal treasure hunt that will lead us to happiness and to real treasures. It's not a burden--it's a suggestion of where to look for the blessings. Just like all of God's commandments.

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