The Love of God (1 Nephi 11)
If you've ever read or learned about Lehi's dream, then you probably know that the tree in the dream represents "The Love of God" as Nephi is told in 1 Nephi 11:22. However, if you read the description of what Nephi is shown as the meaning of the tree, you'll see that he is shown the virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus (verses 15-20) as well as the Lord Himself going forth among the people (verse 24). Putting these together, we see that the love of God has been demonstrated to mankind by Jesus coming into the world and making a way for each of us to inherit eternal life in the kingdom of God.
Jesus Himself said the same thing: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Why is it important to proclaim the coming of Christ as the demonstration of the Love of God? Because it's the one gift that is provided equally to all people! Although God gives other gifts "severally as He will," and we are so grateful to Him for all that He provides, let's be careful about using these additional blessings as an indication of how much God loves us.
For example, I am very thankful for all of the following in my life:
- My wife who has been a great blessing to me
- My daughters who have brought great joy to my life
- My career that has provided for our natural needs
- My health which has been excellent
Although I can't begin to thank God enough for the above, if I say that these show how much God loves me, what does that say to someone who never married or is divorced or widowed or couldn't have children or has struggled financially or suffers with health problems? Does God love them less?
Perhaps these other people have other blessings in their lives that I don't. Or perhaps not. It doesn't matter from the perspective of God's love for us since He has given each of us the greatest gift of all — the gift of His son. This demonstrates His great love for each of us. The rest is a bonus.
The value of the gift of salvation so vastly exceeds anything else that we can receive in this life that Jesus put it this way: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
So, the next time somebody tries to undercut your faith with a statement that goes something like, "If God really loved you, why wouldn't He give you this?" you can respond with "If God really loved me, He would have sent His son to purchase my salvation — and He did exactly that!"
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.