“For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.” Doctrine and Covenants 78:7
“Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory. For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” Doctrine and Covenants 88: 18, 22
The gospel is like a car. In order to gain a place in the Celestial Kingdom of God one needs to prepare oneself to receive it. God wants to give us a car, He wants us to be able to drive, but if we have not done what we need to do in order to drive that car, what use is it? If we have not earned our driver’s license, how could we appreciate the gift of a car that He wants to give us? God wants to give us the best he has, but we are not always prepared to receive the best that He has to offer.
I don’t think we give God enough credit. We forget the fact that He is a loving God. Of all of the attributes and qualities and accomplishments, what does he prefer to be called? Father. He is a perfect Father and calls us His children. Does that sound like a vengeful God? No, that sounds like a God who wants His children to succeed at all costs. That sounds like a God who would do anything in His power to make sure that His children have everything they need.
But, He is also a just God. He has spoken and given commandments and cannot retract those. But I don’t think He gives commandments arbitrarily just because He likes to be obeyed. That doesn’t fit with the image of a loving Father. Why do our fathers give us rules , like ‘do your homework’, or ‘don’t touch the stove’? Because they want to protect us and they want us to be successful. God is the same way. Many of His commandments are protective, but many are also to encourage us and prepare us to receive all of the many blessings that He wants to give us.
The Celestial Kingdom is a perfect place, the dwelling place of God. In order to live there ourselves we have to become celestial and perfect. We keep the commandments of God because they prepare us to become celestial. We are earning our spiritual driver’s licenses so that we can drive that awesome car that God has waiting for us.
The gospel is also like the Autobahn. The Autobahn in Germany, for much of it’s length, has no set speed limit. That is both appealing and incomprehensible to American drivers. From an American perspective that freedom of having no speed limit is exciting, but we also don’t understand how it can work without many accidents. It works because it is designed to work that way. In Germany to get a driver’s license it can cost almost 2000 €. That’s unheard for an American. Driver’s school can also last 3-6 months, and you can’t get your license until you’re 18. And then we need to look at the actual Autobahn itself. The asphalt is 28 inches thick, compared to 11 inches in America. A thicker road surface leads to less wear and fewer potholes. When they do happen, they do not just fill in the hole, they replace an entire section. The roads are designed with gentle, banked curves and an average of 4% grade.
All of this leads to a well prepared driver and a well prepared driving surface. It is designed to handle speeds in excess of 200 mph. In order to enjoy that kind of freedom you have to be prepared for it. That is the way the Celestial Kingdom is. We learn from scriptures that God wants to give us all that He has, that we are His children and can someday be like He is. To be a God is to enjoy ultimate freedom, but scriptures also tell us that there are certain instance where God could cease to be God. There are eternal laws and laws that govern the use of Priesthood that even God is subject to. In order to survive with the freedom that God has, one needs to be prepared to handle that freedom. In order to drive without a speed limit one needs to be prepared and understand all of the implications of that kind of freedom.
And there are regulations and rules and laws that govern the Autobahn. ‘Rechtsfahren’ is my favorite. Drive Right. Simply that. You stay in the right lane unless you are passing. And it is strictly enforced with heavy fines. Because, can you imagine what it would be like if someone is hanging out in the left lane doing 60 mph when a car doing 200 is coming up on him? It can’t work, so the laws are strictly enforced. Obedience to the laws enables the freedom that is allowed on the Autobahn; obedience to the laws of God enable the freedom that is allowed in the Celestial Kingdom.
God does love us. And like any father, He wants the absolute best for His children. But as a good father, He doesn’t just give His children everything. He allows them to earn it, to prepare themselves to receive it. He lets them get their driver’s licenses and then He gives them their car. He makes sure they are fully prepared and understand the risks and benefits of freedom. But, honestly, I don’t think we give God enough credit for all of the good that He wants to give us. We get so caught up in all of our flaws and imperfections and all of the reasons why we don’t deserve heaven. But I fully believe that God, on the other hand, is looking for all of the ways that we do deserve heaven and is willing to give it to us whenever he can. That is the beauty of the gospel. And that is why I love it.