Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CHRISTIAN COURAGE: The Price of Discipleship

We members of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints have been taking it on the chin for some time now, with barely enough time to take a breath between blows. A question from a young member of the church voices what many in and out of the Church want to know. “Why doesn’t the Church defend itself more actively when accusations are made against it?” The following reply is taken from an address given by Elder Robert D. Hales Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008.
The Savior responded differently in every situation. When He was confronted by wicked King Herod, He remained silent. When He stood before Pilate, He bore a simple and powerful testimony of His divinity and purpose. Facing the moneychangers who were defiling the temple, He exercised His divine responsibility to preserve and protect that which was sacred. Lifted up upon a cross, He uttered the incomparable Christian response: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)

When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage. . . This is not to suggest that we compromise our principles or dilute our beliefs. We cannot change the doctrines of the restored gospel, even if teaching and obeying them makes us unpopular in the eyes of the world.

As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication. Questions and criticisms give us an opportunity to reach out to others and demonstrate that they matter to our Heavenly Father and to us. Our aim should be to help them understand the truth, not defend our egos or score points in a theological debate. Our heartfelt testimonies are the most powerful answer we can give our accusers. And such testimonies can only be born in love and meekness.

. . .We are always better staying on the higher ground of mutual respect and love. In doing so, we follow the example of the prophet Nehemiah, who built a wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s enemies entreated him to meet them on the plain, where “they thought to do [him] mischief.” . . .Nehemiah wisely refused their offer with this message: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” Nehemiah 6:2–3. We too have a great work to do, which will not be accomplished if we allow ourselves to stop and argue and be distracted. Instead we should muster Christian courage and move on. . .In His Intercessory Prayer . . . the Savior warned of persecution, (but) He promised peace: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27)

. . .To my inquiring sister and all who seek to know how we should respond to our accusers, I reply, we love them. Whatever their race, creed, religion, or political persuasion, if we follow Christ and show forth His courage, we must love them. . . .He is “the way, the truth, and the life


In closing, allow me to add this quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who is also a Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

"Something is going to be asked of this dispensation that has never been asked before. We must be prepared to present the church of the Lamb to the Lamb. And when that happens, we must be looking and acting like His church."

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