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What Does Consecration Mean? - Talk by Michael R., 6/23/23

Updated: Feb 24

Bishop Blake would be speaking today, but he’s on his way driving back from a family reunion. And for some reason, he turned down my offer to buy him a plane ticket.

If you went to a baseball pitching camp, you would expect the person running the camp to be an excellent pitcher themselves.

If you went to hear someone give a lecture titled “Chiral Spectroscopy of Nanostructures” you would assume the lecturer had extensive experience researching “Chiral Spectroscopy of Nanostructures.”

But when you come to church…you get to hear an expert in making funny commercials talk about a principle of cosmic truth that he is struggling to understand and doesn’t remotely live up to. Lucky you.

What is this great mysteries of the universe I’m about to talk about? Consecration. It’s a big word, “consecration” and for some reason it always makes me think of a can of frozen concentrated orange juice. And then I think about how when you squeezed that can the cylinder of frozen juice sort of slurped and then plopped into the pitcher. But I’m getting off topic.

Consecration. What does this word mean? And why do we even care?

But first I want to talk about something that kind of bugs me. And I know this is gonna ruffle some feathers because it’s something we say a lot in the church. I’ve said it before and probably everyone in this church says it a lot. It’s when we say that the goal of this life is to “get back to our Heavenly Father” or to “get back to our heavenly home.” It’s not an untrue statement—we are indeed trying to get back into the presence of our Heavenly Parents. But what bugs me about it is that it implies that we’re not supposed to be here…kinda like we ran away from home or wandered too far outside the pearly gates and a tornado picked us up and suddenly we’re lost and like the guy who got turned into a cow in The Emperor’s New Groove, we’d just like to go home now.

But that’s not what happened at all. Before we came to Earth, we lived with our Heavenly Parents and they taught us that in order to progress, to become our very best and brightest selves, we’d have to go on a journey away from home. Along the way, there would be mountains to climb and rivers to cross and Twitter trolls to ignore and chairs to set up and chairs to take down and friends to console and children to raise and loved ones to bury and repentance and love and so much love. And at the end of the journey, our Heavenly Parents would be there to receive us, proud and excited and stoked for us because we would not be the same people who began the journey. We would be transformed beings, more capable of receiving God’s glory, more powerful in service, more consumed with love than we ever had been in our past life. They never intended for any of us to “get back to where we once belonged.” This life was never a round trip. At the end of Lord of the Rings, Sam may have returned to The Shire, but his experience there was never the same—the journey changed him. And whether we see it or not, this journey is changing us. Sitting right here, in these uncomfortable pews, wrestling with children or sleepiness, we are changing, moving forward.

Okay, all that said, I think the idea of “getting back” to our Heavenly home is a lovely thought so forget I said that. Point is, we are moving toward something bigger and brighter. We are learning to become like our Heavenly Parents.

And consecration is a big part of this journey.

Maybe when we think of the law of consecration, we think of the material law the saints lived for a short period back in the 1800’s. They gave all their income to the church to be redistributed among them according to their needs and wants. It wasn’t easy to do—after all, giving all your money to any person would be difficult. Even if my bishop were Easton Price, it would be a little scary. Today, for better or worse, we don’t live consecration quite this way. But do we really have it any easier?

In the temple endowment, we covenant to obey the Law of Consecration, which is that we dedicate our time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed us to building up Jesus Christ’s Church. That’s a big promise to make. And one we could never hope to keep perfectly…at least in this life. So why does God invite us to make such an unrealistic covenant?

The word “consecrate” literally means to make something sacred or holy. For example, when we consecrate olive oil for the healing of the sick and afflicted, we take ordinary olive oil that might have been used for cooking and dedicate it to a holier cause. The same goes for temples which are really just stacks of steel and stone and stucco until the temple is dedicated or consecrated for the work of God. In the early days of the church, before temples could be built, the Lord allowed the saints to consecrate the upstairs room of a store as a place to perform endowments, and later they used the upstairs of a banquet hall. These were holy places, not because they were beautiful, but because they had been set apart as holy. To consecrate is to transform something from profane and telestial to sacred and celestial. God lets us consecrate oil. He lets us consecrate buildings. And the biggest miracle of all: he lets us consecrate ourselves. And when we do that, our measly lives become something truly miraculous—a process of becoming like our Heavenly Parents.

As it turns out, our Heavenly Parents live a consecrated life. Just like we’re asked to consecrate ourselves to God, they have dedicated themselves 100% to…(drum roll) us. In one of the most mind-melting verses ever written, God tells Moses:

For behold this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

When our Heavenly Parents go to work every day, what do they do? And after a long day of work, when they decide to have some fun, what do they do? This is my work and my glory. To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of us. They love this stuff. Our Heavenly Parents don’t worry about work/life balance because they absolutely love what they do and whom they do it for. They love us so much that they consecrate all their time to help us become our best selves—our most immortal and most beautiful, powerful, glorious selves.

And the Son of God, Jesus Christ, demonstrated the same kind of unrestrained dedication to us in performing his infinite atonement. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said:

“Consider this: What of Jesus’ ministry if He had performed additional miracles but without the transcending miracle of Gethsemane and Calvary? His other miracles brought blessed extensions of life and lessened suffering—for some. But how could these miracles possibly compare with the greatest miracle of the universal Resurrection? The multiplying of the loaves and fishes fed a hungry multitude. Even so, recipients were soon hungry again, while those who partake of the Bread of Life will never hunger again.”

Jesus gave everything to us and to his Father. This is the truest form of consecration. God level consecration.

But let’s take it down to our level. If God-level consecration is a symphony orchestra, our efforts at consecration are a toddler hitting a wooden spoon on a frying pan. Still, our Heavenly Parents sent us on this journey and they had a plan for teaching us the music. So let’s learn—how do we live the law of consecration?

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf gives us some starting advice:

“To many of us, such a standard of whole- souled commitment seems out of reach. We are already stretched so thin. How can we balance the many demands of life with our desires to offer our whole souls to the Lord? Perhaps our challenge is that we think balance means dividing our time evenly among competing interests. Viewed in this way, our commitment to Jesus Christ would be one of many things we need to fit into our busy schedules. But perhaps there's another way to look at it.”

Elder Uchtdorf goes on to point out that consecration isn’t so much about slicing off more of our time for God but in giving our whole hearts and souls and minds to God.

After all, as Elder Maxwell points out, isn’t consecration just an extension of the first great commandment: thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

So we can fret and do endless calculations about how much of our time we need to give to God. Or we can keep it simple and just give everything. But, but, if I consecrate all my time, when will I fold the laundry?

This exposes one of the misconceptions about consecration: that it somehow means we have to spend all our waking hours at church or in the temple and neglect that growing pile of unfolded t-shirts and underwear. On the contrary, a consecrated life is full of laundry folding and toilet plunging and going to work and school and doing taxes. After all, isn’t there a laundry room in the temple?

The difference between ordinary life and consecrated life isn’t so much in the things we do but in the “why.” Am I living life to survive—to pursue personal success and glory, or am I living to build up Christ’s Church? When I schedule my day, am I worried about pleasing myself, or am I worried about pleasing others, or am I worried about pleasing God? Am I developing my talents so that I can look good or so that I can serve God? Is our quest to earn money driven by a need to overcome the world, or do we trust Jesus when he said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Put more simply, consecration is looking at yourself every day and saying, “If today, my only goal were to build up God’s kingdom, what would I be doing?”

And it’s entirely possible that the answer would be: first, let’s fold that laundry. But the answer may also be, let’s call Sister So-And-So. It may be that your newly consecrated day means you need to spend10 hours at the office. But maybe, during your lunch break, instead of reading that article about the Laker’s search for a competent center, you read this week’s Come Follow Me. Maybe a consecrated life does mean winding down at the end of the day to an episode of your favorite show. Or…maybe not that show. Maybe consecration means viewing our Church callings not as a job to be done, but as a God giving us a helpful little piece of the map on our journey of becoming more completely his.

These tiny changes in our lives, these small substitutions, inspired by the Holy Ghost and powered by the atonement of Jesus Christ are the key.

As Elder Maxwell suggests:

No need to ask, “Lord, is it I?” Rather, let us inquire about our individual stumbling blocks, “Lord, is it this?” We may have known the answer for a long time and may need resolve more than His response.

If you’re not sure where to start. Let me suggest praying about it. Actually, let Nephi suggest praying about it. He says:

But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not fain; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

If we pray, God will show us how to consecrate our lives. He’ll show us the tiny changes we need to make today. He’ll show us how to transform this hamster wheel of a life into a miracle. And when this life is over, when all the laundry is folded and we’ve finished all our ministering and administering and working and sweating, I think we’ll get a chance to look through this life on fast forward through God’s eyes. And I think it will look a lot like that sparkly moment when Cinderella’s torn dress morphs into a glowing ball gown. And we’ll realize that consecration was never about “giving things up” but about trading our tattered life for something celestial.

I’d like to end by answering a question I posed earlier in this talk: why does God have us make such an unrealistic covenant as consecration? The answer is: I don’t know. But here’s my best guess. God trusts us enough to show us the end goal. He also commands us “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” If this journey is about becoming more like our Heavenly Parents, we have to learn what it feels like to live more completely for them, just as they live completely for us.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.



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