Elder Dieter Uchtdorf spoke about the way of a disciple of Jesus Christ in the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference a week ago. The first part of his message fits nicely with my thoughts on how the Ten Commandments can solve all world problems.
3. Participation and patients is required.
In order for the Ten Commandments to solve all of the problems in the world, they must be actively applied by all individuals, each and every day. This also requires an understanding that solutions will not come instantly, but will require time. Dieter Uchtdorf explains these principles while talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ generally, but they also apply to the Ten Commandments.
When we hear the transcendent truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, hope and faith begin to blossom inside of us. The more we fill our hearts and minds with the message of the risen Christ, the greater our desire is to follow Him and live His teachings. This, in turn, causes our faith to grow and allows the light of Christ to illuminate our hearts. As it does, we recognize the imperfections in our lives, and we desire to be cleansed of the depressing burdens of sin. We yearn for freedom from guilt, and this inspires us to repent.
Faith and repentance lead to the purifying waters of baptism, where we covenant to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and walk in His footsteps.
To uphold us in the desire to lead a purified and holy life, we are endowed with the baptism of fire—the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a heavenly Comforter who accompanies and guides us as we walk in the path of righteousness.
The more we are filled with the Spirit of God, the more we extend ourselves to others. We become peacemakers in our homes and families, we help our fellowmen everywhere, and we reach out in merciful acts of kindness, forgiveness, grace, and long-suffering patience.
These are the first steps along the true way of life and fulfillment. This is the peaceable way of the follower of Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, it is not a quick fix or an overnight cure.
A friend of mine recently wrote to me, confiding that he was having a difficult time keeping his testimony strong and vibrant. He asked for counsel.
I wrote back to him and lovingly suggested a few specific things he could do that would align his life more closely with the teachings of the restored gospel. To my surprise, I heard back from him only a week later. The essence of his letter was this: “I tried what you suggested. It didn’t work. What else have you got?”
Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.
Too often we approach the gospel like a farmer who places a seed in the ground in the morning and expects corn on the cob by the afternoon. When Alma compared the word of God to a seed, he explained that the seed grows into a fruit-bearing tree gradually, as a result of our “faith, and [our] diligence, and patience, and long-suffering.” It’s true that some blessings come right away: soon after we plant the seed in our hearts, it begins to swell and sprout and grow, and by this we know that the seed is good. From the very moment we set foot upon the pathway of discipleship, seen and unseen blessings from God begin to attend us.
But we cannot receive the fulness of those blessings if we “neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment.”
Knowing that the seed is good is not enough. We must “nourish it with great care, that it may get root.” Only then can we partake of the fruit that is “sweet above all that is sweet, and . . . pure above all that is pure” and “feast upon this fruit even until [we] are filled, that [we] hunger not, neither shall [we] thirst.”
Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.
It is not enough merely to speak of Jesus Christ or proclaim that we are His disciples. It is not enough to surround ourselves with symbols of our religion. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping.
Ours is not a secondhand religion. We cannot receive the blessings of the gospel merely by observing the good that others do. We need to get off the sidelines and practice what we preach.
As each person participates in practicing the Ten Commandments, there will cease to be large issues, there will be peace in the world. This will take time. Perhaps years and decades. It will come as soon as all people accept and live the way of life dictated by the laws of God.