Friday, February 6, 2009

“Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (3 Nephi 5:13)

The motto on my blog ("Whatever I am...Trying to be a good one") echoes the great Abraham Lincoln, who said just that: "Whatever you are, be a good one". I am many things; a husband, a father, a Latter-day Saint, an American, a teacher, a student, a brother, a son. But above all things, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. And as imperfect as I am, I'm trying to be a good one.

My faith is grounded in Jesus Christ. The restoration scriptures ensure that we be linked to Christ; our loyalty to His Church is a byproduct. Several critics of the Church recently expressed to me their concern over those who are "losing faith in the LDS church", and about "Mormons having their faith in the Church rather than Christ". One of the first things I usually do in evaluating critical comments is to ask myself if there is any truth to them. "Can/should we be doing better?" That their perception is not an accurate description of "all Mormons" is beside the point. The real point, and it's a good point, is that having faith in anything other than Christ is not building on a sure foundation.

Indeed, placing faith in the Church is not necessarily the same thing as placing faith in Christ. Those Saints who have properly placed their faith in Christ and who truly seek to "come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him" (Moroni 10:32) must help the others so that their faith won't fail when they finally realize, or become disillusioned, by the fact that they can't be "perfected" by themselves or by a church.

Recently there have been some discussions about what was meant by the "rock" upon which Christ said he would build His church. There are various interpretations for the meaning of "rock" which have legitimacy. These certainly include our personal testimony through personal revelation. After all, this revealed testimony of the Savior is what led Peter to declare "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God", and Christ to say "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:16).

The prophet Helaman added his own testimony about how to prevent the gates of hell from prevailing against us. He also cleared up any doubt about on which rock we must build our personal foundation:

"Remember, remember, that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12.)

Inevitably there will be times when winds of doubt come our way, or when it seems the devil himself is trying to beat us and drag us down. So of all the interesting and important things in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, these self-reflective questions must be the among ultimate imperatives: Are we building upon this "sure foundation", or upon something else? Above all else, are we truly striving to be disciples of Jesus Christ?

I, for one, am sure trying.


Jack Meyers said...

Years ago, in my time as a youth leader, I was at a youth meeting playing with the teenagers in the gym when I noticed a junior high guy sitting on the bench to the side in the gym. He was heavyset and he clearly had back problems--like, think hunchback. Let's just call him Troy.

God was like, "Go talk to him." I replied, "No, You go talk to him." I was having fun playing with the good-looking, healthy kids. But I usually do lose my arguments with God, so eventually I trudged over and sat next to Troy and began talking to him.

Troy amazed me. We talked about all the back surgeries he had been through and his other health problems and how mean the kids his age could be (I know all about that). He was such a bright kid, and he had so much faith in God, he just needed confidence. I was ashamed that I hadn't wanted to talk to him at first. He became like a little brother to me and I often drove him home after church or youth group and kept him company.

That night, after youth group, I was talking to someone outside the church when one of the assistant youth pastors walked by me and stopped. "Jack, I just wanted to say, you're glowing," she said. "I can see Jesus in you." I wish every day I could feel like I felt that night.

I saw Troy at the old church just a few months ago, all growed up. He had just won a massive computer engineering scholarship. His back looked a lot better and he was so much happier and confident, still so faithful too.

In any case, my point is, that is the goal, isn't it? For people to be able to see Jesus in us? One of my favorite songs is called "All That Is Good" by Five Iron Frenzy, and the opening verse goes:

Where does the misunderstanding come from,
Demanding that we be outstanding and then some?
Perfection never was a requirement
although some might say we desired it.
So then for times when things get old I might get cynical.
I see that I don't see.
Do they see You when they see me?

I like your verse from Helaman, Clean Cut. I think that wanting to be more like Christ is always the right track.

Clean Cut said...

"I can see Jesus in you"--isn't that what it's all about?

As you fully know Jack, there's so much debate out there on how to properly define a "Christian", or which groups properly fall under the umbrella of "Christianity", that it starts to become a distraction from the real issue here--discipleship to Christ!

If we build on the foundation of Christ, shouldn't Christ be reflected in the life we build?

As I wrote here, it is a life-long challenge. (The Challenge of Discipleship)