Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Agency and Agent

Our religion has a word that we use different than others.  Insofar as I can tell we are the only ones that use it this way.  It is significantly different than the other uses of the word.  The word is agency (click the word to see dictionary meanings of the word).  In our religion it means a human being's ability to choose their actions, reactions and thoughts.  When we speak of agency it indicates that because we each have that ability to choose for ourselves, how to act and think, that we have the incumbent responsibility for our actions.  In addition we are the only ones who can change our actions.  Implied in any discussion of agency is that we have the responsibility to make it a priority to change our behaviors to be more in harmony with Christ's teachings.  We are responsible to attempt to act in a manner not only pleasing to him but following the examples that he gave us in his life and complying with the teachings of ancient and modern day prophets. 

As we put in effort into making that change (which is described as a change from selfishness to selflessness) then we become commendable agents or representatives of our Savior.  We are energized toward that goal due to a covenant or promise that we make at baptism.  That covenant not only communicates our desire to follow his commandments but to also become like him by taking upon us his name symbolically.  Taking upon us His name is like joining His family.  We seek to achieve active daily efforts to act as He would act as evidenced by the teachings from the New Testament and Book of Mormon. 

Needless to say our efforts will be imperfect and often weak.  However, we have the expectation that with increased practice, effort and religious and self understanding (aided by self evaluation) we can improve our efforts and become adequate, commendable and acceptable servants/agents of Christ. 

The Prophet and President of our church Gordon B. Hinckley taught more than once prior to his death in 2008, that in his view what was the best representation of our religion is the individual member's lives (see yesterday's post for more info by clicking here).  Consequently we as members must not just "talk the talk" but "walk the walk", meaning to be an example of what our religion teaches and stands for.  Be living symbols, we might say, in our lives.  Of course we recognize that as living symbols we will be human symbols as well indicating we will not be perfect but make errors.  Even in our errors we can symbolize and exemplify efforts to improve and change to be a more Christ like person. 

Without agency, any talk or expectation of change would be meaningless because without agency we would not be able to do it.  It would be impossible.  Without agency our actions would be due to other causes and not within our own control.  Whatever the other causes we would only be reactive and responsive to those powers.  As believers in agency or rather recognizers that we have been given that gift from God, we are powerful in the ability to choose our actions and take responsibility for good or ill for what we do and think. 

As a result of agency we have a chance to emulate Christ and pattern our behavior after him.  Agency makes that goal a possibility.  (Matt. 5:48: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." See also 3 Nephi 12:48) Without the possibility to control ourselves (as opposed to being controlled by someone else) and without the ability to be responsible for our actions we are animal like in psychology as well as biology, tied to instinct or other controls, rather than being individual agents able to contemplate in thought who or what we choose to follow in our behaviors.

It has always interested me that of all God's creations (of which I am aware) humans are the only ones that can choose to comply with His commandments.  We get to decide whom we will serve rather than automatically comply with everything and anything He says.  

With that established we can more easily see that life is not just what it seems.  It is not just an effort to accumulate stuff or to seek entertainment or fulfill our passions.  Instead life is a testing ground where we can practice and perfect our self-control and shape our thoughts and behaviors to represent what we hold most dear.  Difficulties, catastrophes, pain and heartache are not just a condition of mortality or not merely obstacles to overcome but can literally be the teachers of how to change and conform our lives to be like Christ.  As we modify and transform ourselves in this way we can/will see that our individual life with our individual weaknesses and strengths, along with our individual challenges and successes are an individual schooling that is developed very specifically for each one of us.  This literally can train/shape us individually to reach our potential.  That potential is to most closely resemble our Savior and His Father. 

We may as a child and at times through our lives pattern our behavior after individuals or heroes that we see have some characteristic of the Savior.  But ultimately we must turn to Him and follow His pattern as we understand it, which of course allows us to be responsible for how we turn out.  As we do this we acquire all opportunities to learn and be what this mortal existence was intended to help us be.  The Creator not only did brilliant work in creating this world and all of us, but did ultimately meaningful work in forming a creation with potential!

1 comment:

  1. You are correct. Our traditional definition of Agency/Agent is different, however, I do not believe that our scriptures make that distinction. In fact, I think Agent and Agency in the scriptures always follows the dictionary's definition, and has a different meaning from the way we commonly think of it today.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...