Posted by: Ascentury | Thursday, 9 April 2009

Utterly alone.

At the April general conference last weekend, Jeffrey R. Holland expressed the following thoughts on aloneness and the gospel:

… One of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path. … Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you]” (John 14:18–23).

My other plea at Easter time is that these scenes of Christ’s lonely sacrifice, laced with moments of denial and abandonment and, at least once, outright betrayal, must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa in our present day. As we approach this holy week—Passover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tomb—may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear.

I’ve spent some time thinking about the subject of solitude in the face of faith before, but what struck me as particularly interesting is Elder Holland’s interpretation of our role in the Atonement in the last paragraph: “Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa in our present day.” What does this mean? Is this a mere reference to our responsibility to reach out to those who languish all about us, or is this a veiled theological interpretation? In the context, I have to think that it’s the latter—“not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear.”

What do you think?

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