Cover image via Gospel Media Library.
Throughout the world people want to know Christ better. A nonmember friend of mine recently told me she believes that the Lord is unknowable, a powerful force and a creator of all things, but not a being you can really get to know. She asked if Latter-day Saints see things the same way, and I told her that we strive to have an actual relationship with him.
In our faith we believe that it’s one thing to know about Christ, and quite another to know him. We endeavor to do this through prayer, study, and service, to follow Christ’s admonitions, to keep the commandments, and to love our fellow man. We pray for a testimony that he lived and now lives again. We believe that Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Ghost are separate, but one in purpose. We count on personal revelation and real answers to our prayers. We express gratitude for the Lord’s atoning sacrifice that allows all of us to be resurrected and to return to our Father in Heaven. We believe Christ’s original, New Testament church with divine authority was lost, and was restored again 200 years ago by the prophet, Joseph Smith. We study the words of modern-day prophets and apostles to learn all we can of the Redeemer. We make sacred covenants and believe in sealing families together for eternity.
Though our points of doctrine may differ, we all want to know Christ better, to feel closer to him. And this is a very worthy quest, one that yields great joy and discovery. But sometimes we overlook one of the surest ways to attain this closeness.
It’s to flip the quest inside out, and study how well Christ knows us. When you look at the population of the earth, it is a small fraction of people who grasp the humbling truth that the Son of God knows every one of us individually. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “He knows your name and he knows your need.” Elder David A. Bednar echoes this truth: “The Lord knows each of us individually and loves each of us infinitely. He knows us one by one and name by name.”
By coming to a clear understanding of just how well Christ knows each one of us– and how very much he loves us– we will come to know him better and begin to achieve that closeness we all want.
Many, the world over, know that Christ suffered for our sins on that terrible night in Gethsemane and then hanging upon the cross. But few know that He did even more than that: He took upon himself not only our sins, but all our burdens including sickness, abuse, betrayal, heartbreak, loneliness, depression, grief—every form of anguish we endure in this life. And he did it one by one, for each of us. He literally understands every single thing we will ever go through. He knows what we’re ashamed of, the actions we regret. He knows our embarrassment at falling short in the many ways we all do. He knows our profound remorse as we repent. When we sob in sorrow, when we sink into despair thinking nobody else could possibly understand, there is One who absolutely does. He lived it. He felt it. He loves us and knows precisely how to help us.
The atonement is not only to pay for our sins so we can enter Heaven upon our death. It’s a living, breathing, present-day gift that succors and sustains us as we travel through mortality. It gives us not only peace and comfort, but power. We can reach out to our Lord and Savior now, knowing he loves us, has perfect empathy for our situation, and wants to help us.
Chieko Okasaki, former First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, said, “He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save us in our imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.”
But he also rejoices at the good in us. He knows the times we exerted faith when life got hard, the times we turned to Him for help, the sacrifices we made for the sake of others, the persecution for His sake that we have suffered, the moments when we forgave, the selfless gestures, the sincere love we expressed, the trials we’ve endured valiantly.
He knows our quirks. He knows what delights us, what hopes we hold in our hearts, what goals we wish we could reach. Just as we smile watching our children preparing a Mother’s Day breakfast, or helping their brother with his homework, he delights in each of our efforts. Even when we trip and fall, he still loves us. As President Thomas S. Monson has said, “Our Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes… it is simply always there.” And God’s Only Begotten Son feels the same way.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, God loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without a compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.”
By learning how our Deliverer knows and loves us individually, we automatically come to know and love him as well.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.