“Mr. Rice, you seem happy all of the time!”, quipped one of my male high school seniors, Xavier.
I replied,”I guess I am happy. Most of the time anyway.”
As I later reflected on what Xavier said, I thought about what makes me so happy most of the time. I realized that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ I have enjoyed as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church. If this is the source of my happiness, what about this gospel brings me so much happiness. I came up with five reasons.
Mormons know where they came from, why we are here, and where we are going after we die. We believe that prior to our being born, we were living as spirits with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and all of the spirits of mankind. We were given the opportunity to come to Earth and prove ourselves and demonstrate our obedience while being tempted during our lifetime. After we die, we will be rewarded for our obedience by degrees contingent on our works on this earth. It is our hope that we will qualify for the ultimate reward, living with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and our families for all eternity. This perspective makes us happy because we realize our time on this earth is very short and we need to make the most of it while we are here. We know, too, that whatever struggles we may have, will be only for this life and we will realize sweet relief in the next. Knowing that we come from a noble birthright and that we truly are a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father, gives us tremendous confidence that we can make it.
Families Are Forever
One of the truths Mormons believe are that families can be together forever. Ideally, our families are a source of joy and strength. For some, this is a reality, for others this is a work in progress. If families are to be together forever, then they need to work to protect that relationship.Our families should be our teammates in the lifelong goal of returning to our Heavenly Father. If we are to be together, we need to lift each other up along the way. Also, there is a great peace knowing that friends come and go but family is forever.
We Serve God When We Serve Each Other
Our church is a very service-oriented church. No one is paid for their positions in our church. That means everyone who serves is doing so voluntarily. Everyone has a role to play and some may seem to have more responsibilities than others. We believe that though there is a certain hierarchy in leadership, in the eyes of God everyone is equal. That means he measures us on how much effort we put into our church position and not the level of the church position. Therefore, we work hard to serve each other in our positions, are asked to perform service for families that we are assigned, and are asked to participate in service projects. Great joy comes from serving others as we forget about ourselves for awhile.
Mormons have been commanded to give ten percent of our income to God. This money is consecrated to be used to build the kingdom of God. It is sent to our church headquarters and used in various ways including building buildings, printing church materials, and paying for church utilities. This demonstration of sacrifice leads to blessings that come our way and are often financial in nature. My wife and I have a testimony of how this principle has protected us from financial problems during our marriage. As a bishop, I have observed many miracles where members have paid tithing first and found money to pay for necessities from seemingly nowhere. Not every member obeys this commandment as it takes tremendous faith to give when you don’t think you can afford it. Those that do pay consistently, have less financial worries.
Word of Wisdom
Mormons believe in a revelation on health given to Joseph Smith in 1833. This revelation is commonly known as “The Word of Wisdom”. This is counsel given by God on what man should and should not take into his body. We are forbidden from drinking anything containing alcohol, and partaking of tobacco products in any form. We are commanded to not drink hot drinks, later clarified by church leaders to be coffee and drinks made from tea leaves. The Word of Wisdom goes on to counsel on dietary recommendations that will keep a person healthy including eating fruits, vegetables, and grains. We are advised that we should not take into our bodies anything that will harm our bodies and to take things in moderation. The closer we follow this counsel, the healthier we will be. As a result of living this lifestyle, I am in command of my own body and don’t have to worry about dying a premature death from use of these substances. Study after study has shown that Mormons live longer than average. I maintain that we feel better as well. When you feel great, you are much happier.
So Xavier, I am happy. Thanks to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am truly happy. There are millions of people in this world who are happy for the same reasons. You can read about many of them here. I invite you and anyone else who wants true, lasting happiness to come, and find out for themselves. Ask a Mormon near you or visit mormon.org. What makes us even happier is sharing what we have found.
photo credit: Happy, Swinging Reese via photopin (license)
photo credit: Smile don’t frown Look up don’t look down Believe in yourself Don’t let yourself go Just be who you are And let your life flow. via photopin (license)