Roughly one-third of the world’s population is Christian. But what does that mean?
We believe there are at least seven levels of belief in Christ. And as we've written previously, they can be roughly summarized as follows:
Level 1: I believe he was a historical figure, but most of what is said about him is fiction or legend rather than history.
Level 2: I believe he was a remarkable and powerful teacher.
Level 3: I believe he was a charismatic leader who developed the most beautiful philosophy of life ever devised.
Level 4: I believe he was more than a man, more than a great teacher. He was the Son of God.
Level 5: I believe he was the Son of God and is our Savior. He died and atoned for our sins and was then resurrected.
Level 6: I have accepted him as my Savior and have been born again.
Level 7: Having been born again, I strive to know him better each day and to progress by trying to grow consistently more like him.
Whatever level you are on, Easter may be the best time to begin moving from one level up to the next. But in the busy, secular world in which we spend our days, a deeper spiritual focus rarely happens without consistent, conscious effort. It doesn’t happen without an actual plan.
Many of the Christians we know feel that they are solidly on level 6 but have a long way to go and a lot of effort to put in if they want to get to level 7.
As we strive to know Christ better, we should beware of the danger in humanizing Christ. Neal A. Maxwell, an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, put it this way: “Any assessment of where we stand in relation to him tells us that we do not stand at all! We kneel!”
We cannot come to know Jesus by comparing our weaknesses with his because he lived a perfect life. We can come to know him only by the opposite process of contrasting our small strengths, hopes and possibilities with his perfect and infinite ones. Such a process will inevitably bring about four great benefits:
We will know him better.
We will know ourselves better.
We will realize greater humility in viewing our weaknesses in contrast with his perfection.
We will recognize greater potential in viewing his perfection alongside our possibilities.
What we may need in order to come to know him better, and what we may want to start during this Easter season, is an organized, deliberate effort to focus on more of Christ’s specific characteristics. In this pursuit, it may be useful to consider and compare the process by which we come to know a friend or associate.
As we think about our best friends, we realize that getting to know them was a piecemeal process. One day, we came to appreciate one quality about a particular individual. Another time, we sensed a different aspect of his personality. Then there was the day we learned an additional side of his character. And so on.
Our greatest friend has told us that we may know him in a similar way — bit by bit, by studying his life through scripture. It can be a building process. Each Sunday, worshipping at church can be a time to cut a new facet on the gem of our knowledge of him.
Our Easter challenge to ourselves and to you is to try to focus on a different aspect of Christ’s life or character each Sunday. One week, you might concentrate on him as a teacher, another week on his compassion, another Sunday on his courage, and so on throughout the year. Suggestions for a full year of “weekly focuses” are free at valuesparenting.com/WhatMannerOfMan.
What better Easter gift could we give to ourselves and to our Savior than to begin an effort to think about him more and know him better? And what better gift could we give to our children and our families than setting this example?