A few weeks ago I was reading a book where the author made a point using a particular scripture in a context that I had not thought of. This allowed me to see more of it’s full meaning – especially when I compared it with other scriptures (which I will also share). I had read the passage before, but had either forgotten about it or had not understood it fully until it was delivered in the context that it was, which allowed it to finally stick in my mind and more importantly to understand its importance.
“Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.”
I would just like to highlight the absolute-ness of the word ‘all’ as used above. All means all. All means every single thing. It’s opposites (‘neither’ or ‘no’ or ‘not at any time’) are also used to further emphasize the all-ness of it. Here are some related passages:
And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.
…the scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.
2 Ne. 11:4
Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.
So, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far – all things:
- Are spiritual unto God
- Have their likeness (can be seen as ‘types’) that bear record of Christ.
- Have been created for that express purpose (to bear record of Christ)
- Denote or witness (prove) that there is a God
- Are the typifying of him (Christ)
At first glance, this list might seem obvious, but let’s not forget exactly what ‘all’ means. It really does mean all. Yes, it means that the more obvious things like attending church and partaking of the sacrament, and reading the scriptures are spiritual and point us to Christ, but it also means that all of our daily activities and even (seemingly) temporal commandments like food storage, debt avoidance, tithing, the word of wisdom, the law of Moses, church ball, and every last one of the programs and commandments and suggestions given by the church, are also spiritual and are ‘the typifying of him’ and have been created to bear record of him (Christ). If we haven’t seen how that is possible, it is because we aren’t looking or we are attempting to place temporal and spiritual things into separate boxes when they should all be in the same (spiritual) box.
But, we aren’t talking about just the commandments; could all things really mean that folding the laundry, washing the dishes, getting dressed each day, mopping the floor, fixing the doorknob that broke, getting the oil changed in my car, driving to work, scrubbing the toilet, or any one of the billion other tasks that we do as humans in this world (at home, at school, at play) can and will testify of and point me to Christ?” Yes.
What about newsworthy issues in the world today? Constant war, crime, terrorism, non-stop litigation, pornography, genocide, increasingly hostile political climates, opinions, or organizations, advertisements on TV, social media, rampant bullying (in person and via social media), and the disintegration of tolerance and the increasing barrage or indifference towards free speech, rights, the constitution, political kindness and the importance and sanctity of the traditional family unit? Yes – these things are all spiritual and are the typifying of him.
If that weren’t enough to open our eyes, we can rest assured that every single commandment (morals laws, remember) that we’ve ever been given (including the ones that we think are just in place to make our temporal or non-church lives easier) ‘are spiritual unto God’. He said so himself. Every single commandment – whether it comes from his mouth or the mouths of his prophets – is a spiritual commandment. Remember that he said “not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal.” That’s pretty absolute.
What this means for all of us, is that ordinary life, and the mostly unglamorous parts of that life that we all live (full of its seemingly unending and often frustrating, repetitive and non-spiritual details), are way more spiritually important than we might have realized. In the abstract, this seems logical and even amazing right? We get to live and participate in the daily happenings of an earth patterned after heaven, all while every single thing we see points to nurturing and teaching some of God’s precious children through various means and amazingly spiritual scenarios. I wonder if in the pre-existence we marveled at this thought, viewed all of the simple yet profound things that we could see on earth and the patterns of commonplace things that are present here (as they were in heaven) and we thought to ourselves “how can we not succeed in that spiritual wonderland”?
However, what happens is we get slapped in the face with real life where things never go exactly as planned, we forgot who we are, where we came from, we have these weird and complex physical bodies that we struggle to master, and in our homes nobody cleans up after themselves, messes seem to appear out of nowhere, homework doesn’t get done, stuff breaks all the time, kids fight, and we get sucked into the realization that some if not all of the tasks (cooking dinner, running kids around, going to work every day, paying bills, being an adult, having responsibilities, etc.) that we thought made up a spiritual wonderland (before we actually experienced them) seem to be the very things that develop the most disruption, and present themselves as the most non-spiritual, time consuming, and energy-draining moments imaginable. Combine those chores with the complexities of the emotional world where God’s other children are given full agency to ‘choose for themselves’ creating a spiderweb of consequences that we didn’t realize add up and weigh heavily on our individual perception of reality. If we are honest, we’d rather not be doing most of these chores at all (I don’t like to sweep the kitchen or do the dishes) – so what possible explanation could there be that these activities and stressful consequences are somehow sacred and spiritual, when they feel like anything but?
I would love to provide that explanation, but the fact is I can’t even answer it – at least not the way I’d like to. You are welcome. But, please thoughtfully consider the question.
I will offer this additional information for your pondering that question: we read in the Bible Dictionary that “only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.” I think part of the explanation has to do with our everyday, repetitive, chore laden homes being that spiritual wonderland that we previewed from heaven despite the chaos, and maybe even because of the chaos, when we remember what it is we do there.
Sometimes we become frustrated when we try to compare our homes to the temple because the only factors we are using for comparison are spot-free cleanliness, white clothing, celestial décor, and the presence of courteous whispers. We try to use like for like comparisons – which may not be appropriate. It says that our homes are the only places that compare with the sacredness of the temple, but it didn’t and doesn’t mention anything about the need for perfect cleanliness, reverent whispers, fancy chandeliers, or white clothing.
Let’s think about what we do at the temple, and maybe more importantly, why we do it. Each of the ordinances (steps) performed in the temple prepare us to receive something more – but the temple also teaches us that the only way to receive that something more is by being driven out of the garden of Eden where everything is awesome into a world full of problems – just where we find ourselves these days – and overcome it. And we overcome it by working through it day by day and minute by minute one step at a time.
The crowning ordinance performed in the temple is the creation of an eternal family unit – the sealing of a husband and wife together for all eternity. And by ‘creation’ we mean the starting point. The temple creates a new family unit, and then in our homes every single day during the laborious chores of life (i.e. life outside of the garden of Eden) take us in and out and up and down and all around while that development process is continued, strengthened, tested, and refined over and over and over again. We learn about it in the temple, but we practice it at home.
Our home is the best place to understand that without misery there can be no happiness, and without pain there can be no joy. Our home is also the best place for us to understand how “their journeyings in the land, their sufferings, their sorrows, and their afflictions, and their incomprehensible joy”1 all fit perfectly into the same sentence. Our home is the only place where we can somehow be satisfied when we see the results of our long, hard and thankless work wiped away by a simple smile, or an innocent giggle from one of our precious children. In that small moment, we can feel and we can somehow understand what sacred really means – and how our home can indeed be the most sacred place of all because of what we are doing and becoming there. Then, we start to feel completely overwhelmed with gratitude that fills our hearts because the Lord allows us such a privilege to help build his kingdom by building its inhabitants.
Perhaps this is what we need to understand; that normal, everyday home life is presenting each of us with a multitude of opportunities to capitalize on the opposition, trials, and learning in the most common of all circumstances. And since God loves us, he gives us a lot of chances to learn and to help us “establish [our own] house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God”2 just like his. We just need to look for the smiles that help us remember why – because there is no other way.
As we start to see things “as they really are, and things as they really will be”,4 we can start to see the Savior in all things. We will see that Jesus himself worked, walked, clothed, washed, fed, swept, gathered, dried tears, helped, healed, restored, fished, played, talked, and did every other seemingly unspiritual and mundane activity (in this same fallen world we live in) all while teaching his friends the greatest truths, overcoming death, and redeeming all of creation.
Let all of us look for ways in which our homes and daily lives can help us to remember that all things bear record of him, all things are the typifying of him, and that all things are spiritual. That is what Jesus did.
1 Alma 28:8
2 D&C 88:119
3 Jacob 4:13