Living Faith in an Age of Like
My friends Like (according to a website I visit at least once every day) everything from yogurt brands to football teams to fancy cupcake supplies to various homeschool curricula to vegetarian recipe sites to television shows to feeding the homeless to home improvement stores to scrapbooks to church and Jesus Christ.
Yes, you can click a tiny thumbs-up image and “Like” Jesus. Or service. Or prayer. Or missionaries. Or church leaders.
Clicking Like is pretty easy. I can do it from where I sit, and I don’t even have to rearrange my elbow, or disturb the hot clay pack I use to ease up my carpal tunnel issues. So, Liking definitely fits with my busy schedule. I can multi-task my Liking, because I generally have about six open programs or tabs, so it’s not going to slow down my day much.
If I click Like, I feel good about myself. Look at all the other nice people who’ve Liked what I Like! We’re all really nice, good people! And surely, when others see how many nice people Like this important thing, it will spur more Liking, and that Liking will spread around the world! Liking is so good!
If I click Like, I’m publicly showing my support for Good Things. That’s really important, because I want to be a good disciple, and not Hide My Light Under a Bushel. So, Liking is a great part of gospel activity, because I’m Shining, right there in public on the internet.
If I click Like, my Liking shows up on my friends’ pages, too, so they’ll know that we Like the same things. Or, if we don’t Like the same things, maybe they’ll feel a little bit guilty, and want to Like the same good things as me and everyone else.
It’s just the same as that time we were all out building houses for people who had no homes, and my friend walked by, and saw us all working. They decided to jump in and build a house, too, and when we finished the day, there were even more homes to shelter those in need.
If I’m honest, there’s one very large flaw in my Liking.
It’s a letter K.
If we were playing word games, I’d want to swap that K, and hope I got a V in exchange. Instead of sitting and Liking things, I could be Living them instead. I could buy a vowel, and swap out the I for an O.
I’d transform Like into the twin principles of discipleship: Live and Love. Liking requires nothing. Living and Loving require everything. Living and Loving require sacrifice.
In the sixth sermon of Lectures on Faith, we find this statement, most often attributed to Joseph Smith:
“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”
Being a big, big nerd, I enjoy reading dictionaries. Words mean things, and I like (and have Liked) knowing what those things are. Many words have more than one meaning, or meanings that change over time. Sacrifice is one of those. The roots of the word, from the Latin sacrificium, refer to a concept deeper than just “giving stuff up.” The roots are here: sacred, and to make. To sacrifice is to make sacred or holy.
To have a Living and Loving faith, rather than a Liking faith, requires sacrificium. It requires making. It’s not a description of what I plan to give up in order to get something else. It’s an active task of making sacred, of transforming mundane things into holy things. My religion, as established by Jesus Christ, does demand that I sacrifice (make sacred) all things, so that I can develop the faith necessary for life and salvation. It requires that I make sacred my Like by exchanging a few letters, transforming my life from that of a fan, to that of a disciple.
The Jesus Christ who made sacred all suffering through the Atonement did not sit about clicking Like. He put His sandals on the road, and went about making His Father’s will and work manifest on earth. He put His hands on the heads of real, flawed, despairing people, and healed them. He put His hands on real food, and multiplied it to serve the needs of people who hungered. For Jesus Christ, everything was dedicated to a sacred purpose. Fill the body’s need for food, and open the door to the soul’s need to satisfy an eternities-deep hunger for God. Heal the body’s sickness, and open the door to the soul’s need for healing from sin and pain.
He didn’t click Like on a page about the Father’s plan of Salvation. He Lived it, with a great and capital L, and every action sprang from His overwhelming and abiding Love. He very clearly laid out my job, if I want to be a disciple of His: love everyone He loves, as He loves them. Live that love, and make it manifest in the world. Become His hands, His feet.
When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, He responded, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
What happens when we allow our hearts, souls, and minds to be sacrificed and made sacred through love of God?
“When we truly understand how great a blessing the gospel of Jesus Christ is in our lives, when we accept and embrace these eternal truths and allow them to sink deep into our hearts and souls, we experience a “mighty change” in our hearts. We are filled with love and gratitude. As the prophet Alma wrote, we feel “to sing the song of redeeming love” to all who will hear it.”
We start with Love, and allow it to make us sacred.
We change the O for an I, and allow it to make our lives sacred.
We expand. We serve. We share joy. We build. We walk. We reach. We lift. We mourn. We feed. We testify. We delight. We dedicate. We sweat.
We Love. We Live.
I won’t limit myself to Liking.
So, let’s chat: how do we Live our faith in an age when a shallow “Like” substitutes for the grander parts of our existence? How are you taking on the challenge to turn Liking into Living, through the Love that makes our human experience sacred?