In each of the conference talks we’ve discussed from April there has been an ongoing underlying theme of discipleship and Russell M. Nelson’s Let Your Faith Show talk is no different. He, like many others at this conference reiterated the message to let the world see our faith and how it sets us apart, but on a deeper level.
Making Religion a Priority
Problems abound in this world because it is populated by imperfect people. Their objectives and desires are heavily influenced by their faith or lack of it. Many put other priorities ahead of God. Some challenge the relevance of religion in modern life. As in every age, so today there are those who mock or decry the free exercise of religion. Some even blame religion for any number of the world’s ills. Admittedly, there have been times when atrocities have been committed in the name of religion. But living the Lord’s pure religion, which means striving to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, is a way of life and a daily commitment that will provide divine guidance. As you practice your religion, you are exercising your faith. You are letting your faith show.
God’s influence isn’t noisy or flashy, and to the natural man God’s wisdom is foolishness, so some simply gravitate to where they think the excitement is. They need to hear people who are enthusiastic about what true religion has to offer. Some have never learned to make decisions in a way that gives God priority. The best age to learn to put these things at highest priority is while young when habits are being formed. Learning this in adult years is much more of a struggle and most people need to hear how believers have made the Gospel a priority and the blessings that have come from it.
Faith is not merely a blind lack of concern, just as hope is not merely a wish. Faith is not “living life by the moment” with a false confidence that it will all work out. Faith is completely predicated and dependent on our own righteousness – not only must we have faith, but we must have faith in the right things and we must be doing the right things.
When we speak of faith—the faith that can move mountains—we are not speaking of faith in general but of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can be bolstered as we learn about Him and live our religion.
In the past few months we’ve talked a lot about actively living the gospel and being an active disciple. See that action there? LIVE, not think about or consider it, or talk about it, but LIVE our religion. That’s an action, not passive, not neutral.
The doctrine of Jesus Christ was designed by the Lord to help us increase our faith. In today’s vernacular, however, the word can mean different things to different people.
The word literally means “to ligate again” or “to tie back” to God. The question we might ask ourselves is:
1. Are we securely tied to God so that our faith shows? Or are we actually tied to something else?
I think we all need an occasional introspective moment to reflect on what we really have faith in. Is it God? Or is it the ‘security’ we build up in our own lives through a steady income, a healthy marriage, a prominent position, etc.
Elder Nelson shares a story:
I’m not sure that my presence on that flight should have given her any comfort, but I will say that one of the realities of mortal life is that our faith will be tested and challenged. Sometimes those tests come as we face what appear to be life-and-death encounters. For this frightened woman, a violently rocking plane presented one of those moments when we come face-to-face with the strength of our faith.
The Relevance of Religion in the Modern World
God declared in the of His Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” He also said, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” Yet so many people look only to their bank balance for peace or to fellow human beings for models to follow.
Clinicians, academicians, and politicians are often put to a test of faith.
In pursuit of their goals:
1. Will their religion show or will it be hidden? Are they tied back to God or to man?
If talking of angels seemed odd in the age of steam engines and railways, it may seem more so in the age of cell phones. Many think the unexplainable doesn’t fit in the days of science and logical explanation of natural laws. Happily, if our lives have been improved by a few scientists discovering and harnessing natural laws, the benefits can be just as great if not more if we can only learn to live by the spiritual laws God has laid down. If GPS systems have made it easy to navigate road systems we’ve never been over before, divine revelation is still needed to help us navigate and make sense of life experiences.
Also, modern life doesn’t yet have satisfying answers to match those that true religion provides to the deep questions of “Why are we here?” “Where did I come from?” and “Where am I going after this life?” The answers to those questions and what they demand of us are profoundly relevant to modern life and actually help us order our lives well.
People who don’t see that relevance need people to share how true religion has affected their lives and made it better.
Elder Nelson shares:
I had such a test decades ago when one of my medical faculty colleagues chastised me for failing to separate my professional knowledge from my religious convictions. He demanded that I combine the two. How could I do that? Truth is truth! It is not divisible, and any part of it cannot be set aside.
Whether truth emerges from a scientific laboratory or through revelation, all truth emanates from God. All truth is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet I was being asked to hide my faith. I did not comply with my colleague’s request. I let my faith show!
In all professional endeavors, rigorous standards of accuracy are required. Scholars cherish their freedom of expression. But full freedom cannot be experienced if part of one’s knowledge is ruled “out-of-bounds” by edicts of men.
Spiritual truth cannot be ignored—especially divine commandments. Keeping divine commandments brings blessings, every time! Breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings, every time!
The Lord knew that His children would need to learn how to find Him. “For strait is the gate,” He said, “and narrow the way that leadeth unto … exaltation and few there be that find it.”
The scriptures provide one of the best ways to find our course and stay on it. Scriptural knowledge also provides precious protection. For example, throughout history, infections like “childbirth fever” claimed the lives of many innocent mothers and babies. Yet the Old Testament had the correct principles for the handling of infected patients, written more than 3,000 years ago! Many people perished because man’s quest for knowledge had failed to heed the word of the Lord!
My dear brothers and sisters, what are we missing in our lives if we are “ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”? We can gain great knowledge from the scriptures and obtain inspiration through prayers of faith. Doing so will help us as we make daily decisions. Especially when the laws of man are created and enforced, God’s laws must ever be our standard.
There are those who Mock… and blame religion for any number of the world’s ills.
In dealing with controversial issues, we should first search for God’s guidance.
We should “liken all scriptures unto us … for our profit and learning.” Danger lurks when we try to divide ourselves with expressions such as “my private life” or even “my best behavior.” If one tries to segment his or her life into such separate compartments, one will never rise to the full stature of one’s personal integrity—never to become all that his or her self could be.
What I think Elder Nelson is saying here is that we need to have the courage to show faith in all the “compartments” of our lives, rather than separating them out to those that apply to our standards and faith and those that do not.
When it comes to my religious life, or “religious compartment”, let’s say, I do not really struggle with faith. I know certain things to be true. Of course, there are a lot of things I do not know or fully comprehend, but I have faith that someday I will. I may not understand why I am asked to do something, but I have faith that I should do it anyway. I may feel overwhelmed in a religious calling or purpose, but I have faith to press forward.
But then I started thinking of other “compartments” of my life…let’s say my professional life. Do I have that same faith? I have come to realize that there are so many things that I do not know or fully comprehend, but do I have the faith that someday I will? I do not always understand all of the things I am asked to do, such as moving to a new state and leaving a great life behind me, but do I have faith that it is the right thing to do anyway? I feel incredibly overwhelmed at the idea of starting over in a new place with new expectations, new people, new hobbies, etc., but do I have the faith to press forward? Do I have faith that everything will work out? At least to some degree, yes…because I’m entertaining the idea!
I think is the danger that Elder Nelson is talking about. We all have very different areas or compartments of our lives…that in and of itself is not bad. But we cannot afford to behave differently in those areas and compartments. We need to have the courage (and it truly takes nothing short of courage) to have faith in areas of our lives.
Mocking is a result that comes from those who do not have enough experience with expression of the sacred to be comfortable with it. They may be afraid of what they might feel or do if they let themselves respond to it, so mockery is their way of defending themselves against something they sense is powerful but which they don’t understand. For this purpose of showing our faith, people need to know they are not alone, and I think deep down they want to know what they can expect and that it will be okay to be moved by the sacred.
Mockery also comes from exposure to religious practices has that are wild, maybe not entirely appropriate or decent, or have seemingly irrational displays. They need to see and hear about religious experiences that are orderly, reverent, and to know how the Lord works through the mind as well as the heart.
People who have thought about various societal problems try to trace the cause. When they find that it leads them to a religion or church practice, they often stop their search and declare that religion is the cause. The problem is they don’t keep going and look for what beliefs cause those problems and behavior and try to find out the origin of that thing. It may not be religion. It may be traditions that have been folded into religion. And religion isn’t a homogeneous thing; it has variety and shades and flavors, so to condemn all religion because of one religion is to pre-judge. Also, to blame it for the world’s ills is to look only at the negative and to miss the number of world blessings that come from it. These people need to learn the good religion has done for the world, and to be able to share that, we need to know about it ourselves.
The temptation to be popular may prioritize public opinion above the word of God. Political campaigns and marketing strategies widely employ public opinion polls to shape their plans. Results of those polls are informative. they could hardly be used as grounds to justify disobedience to God’s commandments! Even if “everyone is doing it,” wrong is never right. Evil, error, and darkness will never be truth, even if popular. A scriptural warning so declares: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”
In 1986, President Thomas S. Monson said: “Of course we will face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. … Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with [faith] have courage as well.”
President Monson’s counsel is timeless!
Day after day, on our path toward your eternal destiny, increase your faith. Proclaim your faith! Let your faith show! Securely tie yourself back to God, that his eternal truths will be etched on your heart forever. Let your faith show!