Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joy to the World

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." One of the most quoted scriptures from the Book of Mormon. When I was a kid, I remember hearing this passage quoted often by people using it to justify incessantly seeking after frivoulous fun. See? Men are that they might have joy. Proof that God wants us to be happy (or in other words, to have fun)—that the whole reason we exist is to have fun. I remember my dad teaching us that this passage could not be read without the following verse: "And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall." At the time, I didn't fully understand the connection.

It wasn't until years later that I started noticing that, in the scriptures, joy seems to be inseparably connected to redemption through Christ.

In Mosiah 4, when King Benjamin's people realized their need for a Redeemer, they "cried aloud with one voice saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins." Then, "after they had spoken these words, the Spirit of the Lord came upon them and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins."

In Alma 36, as Alma the Younger was "harrowed up by the memory of [his] many sins," his mind caught upon the thought of Christ and he cried within his heart: "O Jesus, thou son of God, have mercy on me." His pleas were heard, and his pain was taken away and replaced with "joy as exceeding as was [his] pain."

Again and again throughout the scriptures, joy seems to connote a state of mind, spirit, and emotion that comes as a direct result of receiving redemption through Christ.

Understanding this has given added dimension to my concept of joy. Indeed, men are that they might have joy. When Adam and Eve are taught about the atonement, Eve proclaims, "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption."

The Christmas hymn means more now than before: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!"

No comments: