[Alternate titles: Symbols of the Hero Doctrine, Extrapolations from Coldplay]
Be my mirror, my sword and shield,
My missionaries in a foreign field.
(Get used to alloys of the gospel and pop culture like this. It will happen a lot here on this blog.)
A mirror, a sword, a shield. These three symbols lie at the heart of The Hero Doctrine. Yes, they were lifted from the Coldplay song posted above, but something tells me Chris Martin did not have these particular meanings in mind when he wrote Viva la Vida. But you know what? Maybe he did. Someday maybe I can ask him about it. Either way, they spoke to me, and I hope they can speak to you, too.
Okay, here we go.
Who we are, what we are, and who and what we can one day be.
We are children of a god. Like an embryo to an adult human being (who is then capable of producing more embryos and more human beings), we have the potential to become like Him. So why can’t we look up to God and see something like a mirror? Remember, He made us in His likeness and image. What else is a mirror but our own likeness and image? Yes, like Paul, we are God’s reflection only “through a glass darkly.” We are not yet grown, and yet we are still of the race of gods. Knowing that puts a whole new spin on life, and we can look at every single situation that comes our way differently, including other people. You might have heard that C.S. Lewis quote, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.” How seriously, then, must we need look upon ourselves?
Hence, God is our mirror, but we also need to be mirrors of God. Christ said, “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold, I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi 18:24). We are to be examples—or reflections—of Christlike behavior—essentially, representatives of goodness itself. And in excelling in our chosen fields and living noble, enriched, full lives, we are to be examples or reflections of a people who know the potential of humankind and set out to achieve as much as they possibly can in this life, showing the world who God really is and dispelling the many misconceptions the world has of Him. As we look into the mirror of God, the Creator of the universe, we see that we are capable of everything.
The work we are called to do with our time in mortality, both in our own soul and on the battlefield of the world.
President Uchtdorf has told us that we are God’s hands. In other words, we are the instruments, the tools if you will, by which God does His work. If we are living faithfully and according to the Spirit, then even if we are unaware, He is guiding us to the places and people He needs us to help with—though how much better is it if we are aware! In fact, the blessings we receive in the initiatories are given with the underlying assumption that we are actively doing the work of God. Notice the wording the next time you go, when we are called “to wield the sword of justice in defense of truth and virtue.” In holding up the light of Christ and the light we are personally blessed with—whatever talents or gifts with which we are born—we are indeed wielding that sword. And how do we slay enemies in God’s kingdom? We end their status as enemies—convert them into allies. That’s done with “the sword of the Spirit.” And that’s what we’re called to do with all other weapons and instruments and tools and gifts and talents God has blessed us with, or with which He may bless us, in this life.
As well, God has promised that as we are faithful, and as we work to do His will, He will act as our sword in turn: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). With God, nothing is impossible, and any one person, with God, is a majority. So what must we be willing to do? Anything.
The help and protection God promises us as we do the work of the sword.
In the temple the garment is described as a “shield and protection” to us. It was given to Adam and Eve as an emblem of God Himself when He could no longer be with them after their expulsion from Eden. In doing His work and wielding His own Spirit as a sword, God is our shield. And in using our swords in defense of truth and virtue, we are acting as shields for God and His gospel.
The doctrines of the gospel also provide shields of faith and knowledge and comfort apart from when we are fighting for His cause: when we are fighting for our own souls. In the book I show how God has given us shields against pain, grief, doubts, and sin, neutralizing the entropic effects of our fallen telestial world for those who turn to Him. The material all these shields are made of is, of course, the Atonement, for with it, we are protected from all of Satan’s weapons and therefore we fear nothing.
And so I call this blog a mirror, a sword and shield, because that is what I aspire most to be in this life. A reflection of God for the world to see. An instrument of influence in the hands of the Lord. A source of comfort and safety and faith for fellow saints.
I hope it’s something we can all aspire to.