Viewpoint: Preparing for Life 2.0
Contributed By the Church News
- Our willingness to follow God in this life will be a determining factor in the life we have in the world to come.
- For each major decision we should ask ourselves, “What will be the eternal impact of this decision?”
- The structures of relationships in the world to come are centered around the family.
- The hastening of the Lord’s work is happening even in the spirit world.
“Some decisions that seem desirable for mortality have unacceptable risks for eternity. In all such choices we need to have inspired priorities and apply them in ways that will bring eternal blessings to us and to our family members.” —Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The only parable of Jesus in which names of actual people are used is the story of the rich man and Lazarus (see Luke 16:19–31). In this parable Jesus teaches that our priorities, compassion for our fellow man, and willingness to follow the word of God in this life will be a determining factor in the life we have in the world to come.
As our time on this earth nears an end, in quiet moments, or when someone close to us dies, our thoughts often turn to what lies in store on the other side. The prophet Alma taught that after we die righteous spirits are taken home to God. “And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow” (Alma 40:12).
The scriptures also teach that in the glorious world to come we will be able to take our relationships and knowledge with us:
“And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy. …
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
“And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:2, 18–19)
With eternal knowledge, the question of how we should spend our time and resources while here in this life should become clearer. For example, we can be less concerned about the difference between our possessions and income with that of a neighbor and more concerned with the difference we are making in that neighbor's life.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught in the April 2001 general conference about the importance of having an eternal perspective. He said: “Our priorities are most visible in how we use our time. Someone has said, ‘Three things never come back—the spent arrow, the spoken word, and the lost opportunity.’ We cannot recycle or save the time allotted to us each day. With time, we have only one opportunity for choice, and then it is gone forever.
“In terms of priorities for each major decision (such as education, occupation, place of residence, marriage, or childbearing), we should ask ourselves, what will be the eternal impact of this decision? Some decisions that seem desirable for mortality have unacceptable risks for eternity. In all such choices we need to have inspired priorities and apply them in ways that will bring eternal blessings to us and to our family members” (“Focus and Priorities”).
In December of 2013, the Business Insider reported that Australian nurse Bronnie Ware recorded the regrets of her dying patients for several years. Among their top five regrets were wishing that they had spent less time working and more time staying in touch with friends.
The structures of relationships in the world to come are centered around the family. President Jedediah M. Grant, a counselor to Brigham Young, saw the spirit world and described to Heber C. Kimball the organization that exists there: “He said that the people he there saw were organized in family capacities. … He said, ‘When I looked at families, there was a deficiency in some, … for I saw families that would not be permitted to come and dwell together, because they had not honored their calling here’” (Deseret News, Dec. 10, 1856, 316–17).
It is interesting to note the nature of our spirits in the spirit world: “All spirits are in adult form. They were adults before their mortal existence, and they are in adult form after death, even if they die as infants or children” (Gospel Principles , 242).
Overall, one of the key things to remember about the spirit world is that the appetites and passions that have been cultivated in the flesh, for good or for ill, will continue with us. “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world” (Alma 34:34).
The war for our time, talents, and money rages on every day. The challenge amidst a world full of vain distractions is to remain worthy, willing, and able to serve in the kingdom of God so our righteous desires will continue into the next life.
The hastening of the Lord’s work is happening even in the spirit world. President Thomas S. Monson, in the June 2014 Ensign said, “The Lord has never, to my knowledge, indicated that His work is confined to mortality. Rather, His work embraces eternity. I believe He is hastening His work in the spirit world. I also believe that the Lord, through His servants there, is preparing many spirits to receive the gospel” (“Hastening the Work”).
May we follow the words of the living prophet in our own lives and cultivate an eternal perspective using the resources we have been blessed with to build the kingdom of God. Therein lies hope and not fear for what is to come. “Be of good cheer,” President Monson said in April 2009 general conference. “The future is as bright as your faith” (“Be of Good Cheer”).