"And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?"
This is such an important question. I think most of us can look back on our lives and remember times when we felt really close to God. When we've prayed and felt God answering us, or when we've been reading the scriptures and felt God was saying this verse specifically to us. Maybe that is a good place to start. Praying and reading our scriptures help us to get into those spiritual places more often, and feel that way more. But I think this is asking about something more than that. Have we had this heart-changing experience that is like being re-born? Instead of going through the motions, have we reached a point where we are really in it because we are converted all the way through, internally and externally? King Benjamin's people in Mosiah 5 described it like this: "the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent . . . has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." And it seems like it is a physical change, at least a little, as well, because of the "have ye received his image in your countenances?" ... Maybe it is just being happy, or maybe it is more, but I have had people I know ask if everyone in my church is beautiful... because they see something different there. Maybe it is easier for us to find the positive, or to trust God when things are hard... but somehow, it shows through.
And maybe many of us reading this have gotten there at some point. Later in this chapter, in verse 26, is a good follow up question... if you *have* felt all of this, "can ye feel so now?"
Whether we've felt that before in our lives or not, it's something we need to work on each day, so that we can retain that feeling and that spirit in our lives. Each day, are we facing the world with a changed heart, or with our old worn-out, sometimes cynical ones? I know that I sometimes revert to the old. And those days are much worse than the ones where I feel renewed and close to God. Today, let's work on being reborn... or staying reborn. Let's be more like God, inside and outside. Diving into the scriptures is a good place to start. :)