Love Liberates Us
Love’s peculiar way of looking forward is liberating. If the future has already arrived, then I can put down that burden. I can find rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). This is true, but what is my heavy burden? What weighs me down and keeps me from entering the rest of the Lord? This burden is, I think, time. This burden is the future, manifest in the present as guilt, fear, stress, lust, envy, and resentment. And the weight of that future, of a perpetually postponed redemption, is crushing. When I lie in bed and close my eyes, I can feel it. I can feel time’s weight. It squats like an anvil on my chest. I can feel the creep of a cell-deep panic at the thought of what I haven’t done, at the thought of what I haven’t become, at the thought of what I don’t have, at the thought of all that eludes me.
Notice this about time. My obsession with myself is largely an obsession with my future. I identify myself with my future. Will I be happy? Will I get the girl? Will I win the game? Will I get the job? Will I be loved and praised? Will I be saved? All of these questions are framed in the future tense. And, framed in the future tense, all of them invite worry and fear. This kind of worry and fear draws me out of the present and obscures the truth about Christ and about love. They invite me to hope in something other than Christ. They refuse to live in Christ as though he had already come. They prevent me from entering the rest of the Lord.
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Christ offers something different. He invites me to come to him. He invites me to put down my burden. What I’m doing is no way to live. It’s no way to handle time. It’s no way to look forward. It’s lonely and worried. It’s frustrated and angry. Christ invites me to watch him and learn from him. He invites me to take up time’s yoke the way he does: by being meek and lowly in heart. Like Christ, I need to practice death as a way of life and, thus, press death into the service of life.
Love Allows Us to Be Present in Eternity
This is counterintuitive. My intuition is to post-pone death, not embrace it. My intuition is to stick to my own plan and live time chronologically, to live the present as a means of winning a future that could save me. My intuition is to love the present in light of what I hope the present will eventually become. In this way, I’m seduced into aiming right through the present—right through the people I’m with, through the work I’m doing, through the place where I stand—at the promised outcome. As a result, my way of looking forward ends up being a way of looking through. Love may look forward to things, but it doesn’t look through them. Love locks eyes with them. Love sees them, right here, right as they are, right now: ugly and beautiful, strong and weak, whole and maimed, sinner and saint. Love, primed by Spirit, cares for them as they are.
Love, rather than living time as a means to an end, lives time as an end in itself. If I’ve already died—if the end has already come—then work is not just a means to some other end. With my own end already passed, everything becomes an end in itself. Everything becomes valuable in its own right, on its own terms, in its own present weakness. In Christ, I learn to love life for its own sake. Because I’m already dead, I’m free to “give to every man that asketh” (Luke 6:30). I can let things go. I can give things away. And, especially, I’m free to treat others the way I want to be treated. I’m free to treat them as ends in themselves, not just as means to something else. “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). I can treat them as being worth my time and attention, as ends in themselves, because my own end has, in Christ, already come and gone.
I put down my burden and take up Christ’s yoke. This burden is the future. This yoke is love. But this yoke is light because yokes are, by definition, shared. No longer holding life at arm’s length, no longer aiming through this world at another, I’m also no longer alone. Not only am I yoked with Christ, I’m yoked by Christ’s love with the whole of this present world. Yoked in Christ with the world, we pull together.
Get more profound insights from Adam Miller in An Early Resurrection: Life in Christ Before You Die.
Along with Nephi, "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ," (2 Nephi 25:26) but in all our talking and learning, have we learned how to live in Christ? What does a life in Christ look like—or feel like?
In this thought-provoking exploration of the writings of the Apostle Paul and Book of Mormon prophets, Adam Miller examines what life in Christ looks like. How can we let ourselves and our own desires die so we can be born again to a new life, a full life in Christ, here and now in this mortal life?
Embark with the author on this journey—at once scriptural, philosophical, and literary—and discover one way to share a life with Christ as if he were present today.