At Christmastime, we remember the reason for all the world’s joy. And celebrate the day He became a small boy.
In our church a person’s membership record includes the date he or she was baptized. I’ll never forget the moment I laid eyes on my Down syndrome son’s record and next to the heading “Baptized” it said “NOT ACCOUNTABLE”. That was a terrific moment – connected to my son, in bold type, in actual fact: saved. Christmas is a celebration of the beginning of the life of Christ, before He had actually done anything that would be able to save anyone from the consequences of the things they do that separate them from God.
When I saw those words on my son’s record I was reminded that there was nothing my boy could do that would make him ineligible to return to God. At 20 years old, he still doesn’t have the capacity to really know good from evil, therefore he is not accountable for those things he might do or say that are contrary to God’s way. To see that in print lifted my spirit and increased my respect for this little child who had come to our house without the ability to communicate or use his talents the way most of us do. One of our books of religious instruction explains it this way:
“Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me” (Doctrine & Covenants 29:4)
I am reminded at this time of year of my own need to be reconciled to God through what I can learn from Jesus Christ, and most importantly what Christ has already done for me including the day He was born into this world. He came to learn what it is like to inhabit a physical body and He succeeded in a way that none of us can, by never making any choice or committing any act that was contrary to what God would want him to do.
He came because we need to learn the same things, but we cannot meet the same standard of behavior. In His atonement he felt what we feel and took upon Himself the burden of our stumbling. Though I am accountable for the things I know and choose to do, my Down syndrome son, and all little children, have not that responsibility placed on them because of what they don’t know. Until and unless they know right from wrong their Father in Heaven holds them blameless. What a gift! They are saved and safe.
And me? The greatest gift in the world has been given to me too . . . if I acknowledge the sacrifice of Christ for me, and try to do as He taught, I can be saved from the effects of my inevitable wrongdoing as He suffered for those burdens in the garden and on the cross, so that I can be held blameless too.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son . . .”
“. . . and with His stripes we are healed.”
John 3:16 & Isaiah 53:5