In more modern words, Paul is saying: Don’t live the way the world lives. Don’t find your examples and role models in the celebrity-fueled media of our culture. Instead, change your mind about who you are meant to be. You are a child of God. Align your life with the teachings and doctrines of Jesus Christ. Strive for personal sanctification. Exercise self-discipline. Through true repentance, be blessed by the power of Christ’s Atonement, allowing hearts and minds to be cleansed and rebooted. And in so doing, you will prove to anyone who watches you – and perhaps uses you as an example – that God’s way is the best way.
At the meridian of time, Christ lived. And today He still lives.
In the familiar hymn I Know That My Redeemer Lives (Hymn #136), we sing these wonderful words in the first verse:
I know that my redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives.
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever living Head.
And in the third verse we find these words:
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
This great promise of conquering death provides comfort and confidence as we consider what comes after this life for our loved ones and ourselves.
But none of us are there yet. Thus the ever-present challenge we face each day is that of conquering life. We live on a fallen earth. We are here to prove ourselves. (Abraham 3:24-25) We are all invited to come unto Christ, and then to remain with Him, through thick and thin.
David O. McKay, President of the Church from 1951-1970 taught, 'There is something within [man] which urges him to rise above himself, to control his environment, to master the body and all things physical and live in a higher and more beautiful world.'
President McKay’s wise words suggest that within each of us is a better “me”. But why should one try to become a better me?
The better we become, the more joy we receive and the more joy we dispense. We cope better. We solve problems better. We listen and understand better. We help better. We live better. We save lives better. We conquer life better.
Jesus taught, “…The kingdom of God cometh not with observation…for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21) Within each of us is the power to choose: To choose the path of discipleship. To yield our wills, habits, thoughts and even our character to Christ. We are endowed with the power to change our minds. To turn 90 degrees in a new and better direction. Or just a few degrees of fine-tuning. We have the power to discard old thinking that slows down or retards necessary progress. We can embed in our hearts deeper faith and trust in the Lord, that by letting go of our old selves, He will more fully form us through a process and period of emotional, intellectual and/or spiritual refinement.
One begins to conquer life when he let’s go of tired excuses and comes to Christ with a more mature, renewed perspective. BYU professor and author Terry Warner puts it this way:
“The Savior seems to say to us: 'Come unto me, and I will give you such assurance and hope and strength that you cannot be taken hostage by anyone who seems to do you harm. I will liberate you into love. And then you will no longer give anyone cause to resent or fear you. Instead, they will respond to the love that I have bestowed upon you. By abiding in me, you will do much good, bear much fruit.'
How then shall we come unto Christ so that everything will be different from what it could possibly be otherwise?
By sacrificing all taking of offense. By giving up criticism, impatience, and contempt, for they accuse the sisters and brothers for whom Christ died. By forswearing vulgarity and pornography, which diminish both the user and the used. By putting aside, in short, every practice that bears the image of murder, obliteration of souls, discord, and death. By giving these practices their true name, violence, and abhorring even their first appearance. By renouncing war in every form and proclaiming peace (Doctrine & Covenants 98:16). (Professor C. Terry Warner, speech given at BYU, January 1996)”
We often pray for what we want, yet God answers with what we need – for our own growth and development. World War II Holocaust survivor and renowned psychotherapist Viktor E. Frankl put it this way, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This wonderful thought reinforces the first sentence of this essay from Elder Michael T. Ringwood, “The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that the desires of our hearts can be transformed and our motives can be educated and refined.” Truly Good and Without Guile, Elder Michael T. Ringwood, April 2015 General Conference We can indeed conquer life!
As we inwardly mobilize our personal faith, determination and will to conquer life, might we also intentionally and outwardly support and surround our friends and loved ones with protective empathy, encouragement and charity. In the battle to conquer life, there is power in numbers. And though our numbers, at times, may be few, it takes only one to save another’s life.