I’m not exactly sure what the best title would be for these thoughts, but I was reading the New Era, Mar 2009 which includes an article about vicarious baptisms. At one point Elder Christofferson points out that individuals for whom ordinances are performed are not added to the rolls of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or counted as having membership in the Church. It got me thinking about the role of the Church here on earth and our relationship with Christ. While baptism is a requirement for joining the Church, it isn’t only about membership – or even mostly about membership. On the contrary, baptism is an essential ordinance bringing us back to God and allowing us access to the grace of the Atonment. While the Church serves many purposes in helping members learn about and practice living principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Church isn’t the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our relationship with Christ is personal, intimate, and ultimately sanctifying. It comes as we pursue it – as we pray and study Christ’s words and practice the things He teaches. These things are all personal religious practices and they are things that can’t be done for us. There are many at Church who will encourage us, who will share their testimonies with us, who will give us opportunities to deepen our relationship with Christ – but ultimately it comes down to what we do everyday, each time we kneel or open the scriptures, or repent and struggle through change, or feel the sweetness of forgiveness, or enjoy the comforting of the Holy Ghost. It’s good to be reminded of this from time to time, and I’m thankful the Lord was able to do that through this article.