I'm not doing a post for each talk this time around, but I am still participating in the General Conference Book Club. This week's talk is the one by Elder Holland, "The Laborers in the Vineyard." I love the way he explains parables in a manner that makes you look at them differently. And I love his humor and choice of words. For example,
Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,” as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.
Several years ago I remember reading an object lesson suggestion for teaching the concept found in Romans 8 that we can all become "joint-heirs with Christ" and "receive all that the Father hath." (D&C 84:38). I've spent a couple of hours this morning trying to find the actual source with no luck, so I'm just going to record here what I remember. Basically, the teacher gives a student a bag of candy (fun-size Halloween type packaging) as his inheritance. He then asks if he would be willing to share the candy with the rest of the class members, if they meet the requirements to become heirs as well. The assumption is that the answer will be yes. Then you have the class do something so that they can all "inherit" the prize. However, instead of dividing the original bag of candy, you produce an identical bag of candy to give to each student. This isn't an exactly accurate portrayal of the concept (see below), and I'm not very good at explaining things, so I'm not sure this makes sense, but it really helped me understand the idea better and think of it in a new way.
In my search this morning I found a talk, Households of Faith, by Elder McConkie that also sheds light on this concept.
[Jesus Christ] is the natural Son of God. But there is a system ordained whereby the rest of us can become sons of God. Christ is the prototype of salvation. If we walk in his path and follow him, then we do what he did and eventually become like him. This is the reward for all those who are adopted into the family of God the Father and become his sons. Paul says that Christ is the Son and the Heir, and that we are joint-heirs with him. (See Rom. 8:17.) That is, if we are faithful, we are able to receive, possess, and inherit jointly with him.
This is a very expressive term. It is chosen for particular reasons, to convey the exact and precise thought that is involved. I, for instance, with my wife, own a home, and the deed to that home says that the property was conveyed to Bruce R. McConkie and Amelia S. McConkie, his wife, as joint tenants and not as tenants in common. This is legal language that is chosen in order to convey the concept that each one of us inherits and possesses and owns and has the totality of all the property, that all of it is vested in both of us. If one or the other of us passes away, the other automatically owns the entire property. It is not divisable. We are joint tenants. That is what a joint-heir is; he inherits everything that the other heirs inherit. There is not a division so that one gets this and someone else gets another thing. All of them get the totality of the whole.
We have an order of celestial marriage that opens the door to exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world. (See D&C 131:1–4.) Those who enter this order of matrimony and are faithful and true come up and inherit all things. (See D&C 76:50–70.) The terms and conditions of the oath and covenant of the priesthood say that those who magnify their callings receive all that our Father has. (See D&C 84:33–42.) They are joint-heirs; they are possessors of the whole. They have inherited as their prototype before inherited. They have the fullness of glory and honor and dignity and dominion. So the members of the Church, who are the children of Christ, who progress and advance and keep the commandments and are faithful and true, have the power to become his brothers and his sisters, to be joint-heirs with him, to receive, possess, and inherit the fullness of all good things; and that is what the plan of salvation is all about. That is the plan that God, our Heavenly Father, ordained for us.
This is definitely a "meat and not milk" concept, but I am thankful for the plan of salvation and a loving Heavenly Father who wants me to return to him and be with him forever. What a blessing! And what a challenge!
And I love Elder Holland's conclusion as well: To those of you who have been blessed by the gospel for many years because you were fortunate enough to find it early, to those of you who have come to the gospel by stages and phases later, and to those of you—members and not yet members—who may still be hanging back, to each of you, one and all, I testify of the renewing power of God’s love and the miracle of His grace. His concern is for the faith at which you finally arrive, not the hour of the day in which you got there. So if you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time.