- If you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part.
Elder Holland shares that in the moment, we may question our faith or wonder if keeping our standards is really worth it. He assures us that we are not the first people to go through this and that there are things to learn as we go through these experiences.
- You may wonder if it is worth it to take a courageous moral stand in high school or to go on a mission only to have your most cherished beliefs reviled or to strive against much in society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion. Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our “houses” left unto us “desolate”—desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods, and desolate nations.
- So here we have the burden of those called to bear the messianic message. In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship). They know full well that the road leading to the promised land “flowing with milk and honey” of necessity runs by way of Mount Sinai, flowing with “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.”
He speaks of society created a God who they want to have. He speaks that the world wants a God who will not condemn, who will allow us to sin without needing to repent, who will laugh off our disobedience and tell us to run along. That is not who God is and we need to be obedient to His commandments.
- Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.
- Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes—and this seems the greatest irony of all—these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of “comfortable” God. Really? He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Does that sound like “comfortable” doctrine, easy on the ear and popular down at the village love-in?
- And what of those who just want to look at sin or touch it from a distance? Jesus said with a flash, if your eye offends you, pluck it out. If your hand offends you, cut it off. “I came not to [bring] peace, but a sword,” He warned those who thought He spoke only soothing platitudes. No wonder that, sermon after sermon, the local communities “pray[ed] him to depart out of their coasts.” No wonder, miracle after miracle, His power was attributed not to God but to the devil. It is obvious that the bumper sticker question “What would Jesus do?” will not always bring a popular response.
To show our love for God, we need to resist sin and follow Christ more faithfully. We need to understand that although God forgives sin, he in no way justifies us sinning as OK.
- Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet in part because righteousness was always supposed to accompany it. So if love is to be our watchword, as it must be, then by the word of Him who is love personified, we must forsake transgression and any hint of advocacy for it in others. Jesus clearly understood what many in our modern culture seem to forget: that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin (which He had an infinite capacity to do) and the warning against condoning it (which He never ever did even once).
Finally he leaves us with this great line about the power of Christ's love for each of us.
- Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world.
It is not always easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. There are times that church is boring, we don't have any friends, and we wish we were somewhere else instead of at church for 3 hours on Sunday. There are times when our friends make fun of us because we don't act like they do, because we don't use language like they do, and because there is something obviously different about us, different than any of their other friends. We are different and we should be different from the rest of the world. This difference is found in the knowledge that we are blessed to have in our lives that the world is hungering to find. Is discipleship sometimes a burden, yes, but it is also the greatest joy we could have in our lives. Today, I am going to be thankful that at times, life is hard because I choose to follow Jesus Christ. Maybe showing a little gratitude today will allow me some additional grace from God when those days come that are a lot harder to accept.