I have been thinking about what it means to be a Christian, or to be able to call myself in confidence a disciple of Jesus Christ. I believe that most of us are somewhat uncomfortable as to whether we are truly faithful enough, truly worthy to be called the people of Christ, to be called His. Is that an abundance of humility, a recognition of our own flaws that make us feel unworthy, or just a denial of the true power of Christ to bring us into His fold? Perhaps in the recipe of making a true Christian there is a little bit of each of those ingredients. It is most important that we not allow self-doubt to overcome our faith in Christ and His miraculous power.
When I was young many of the people I knew in evangelical religions did not consider me Christian because I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that while some of my behaviors as an individual often did not reflect Christ in my life, I had a true belief in my Savior and I did not understand how others could discount my devotion for Christ because my religious practices were a little bit different from some. As for most of my friends of other faiths, I knew that they loved me for who I was even though they did not understand my testimony of Christ. I knew that many prayed for me as I did for them, calling upon the same God to bring each other to Christ. In retrospect I believe that acting in faith on each other’s behalf was in part what made us all Christians, what made us all disciples of Jesus Christ.
Simply believing does not make a follower. A follower of Christ, a true disciple, walks in His paths and keeps His commandments. The measure of our devotion is shown in our desire to follow Him, keeping His commandments, and then repenting when we make mistakes. Honestly, this is what Jesus asked of His original disciples along the Sea of Galilee, and of every man, woman and child since. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:17-20).
Those early apostles had sufficient faith to believe, and then exercised that faith by following, regardless of the fact that they had little comparative empirical evidence of who the man Jesus they followed really was. Nevertheless, through trial and error, listening and learning, keeping the commandments and repenting when falling short, the seed of faith that they planted and nourished when they followed the Savior grew into mighty wisdom and knowledge of the true divinity of the Son of God.
The Lord said, “He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple” (Doctrine and Covenants 41:5). Such faith and action, willingness to follow, is abundantly rewarded. Faithfulness and obedience begets greater faith, which in turn increases our strength to endure and to obey greater things, and so forth. Our growth continues and faith matures until, like unto the Brother of Jared whose faith was so great that nothing could be withheld from him, even to seeing our Lord. “Behold, thou shalt observe all these things, and great shall be thy reward; for unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:65).
“He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple.”Jesus Christ
The words of a beloved hymn, “Come, Follow Me” by John Nicholson (1839-1909), speak to my heart as if He were present with me, and He is:
“Come, follow me,” the Savior said.
Then let us in his footsteps tread,
For thus alone can we be one
With God’s own loved, begotten Son.
“Come, follow me,” a simple phrase,
Yet truth’s sublime, effulgent rays
Are in these simple words combined
To urge, inspire the human mind.
Is it enough alone to know
That we must follow him below,
While trav’ling thru this vale of tears?
No, this extends to holier spheres.
Not only shall we emulate
His course while in this earthly state,
But when we’re freed from present cares,
If with our Lord we would be heirs.
We must the onward path pursue
As wider fields expand to view,
And follow him unceasingly,
Whate’er our lot or sphere may be.
For thrones, dominions, kingdoms, pow’rs,
And glory great and bliss are ours,
If we, throughout eternity,
Obey his words, “Come, follow me.”
Thus, is Christianity, being a true follower of Christ. To be a Christian we must follow the Savior, even when we fall short and fail, we must get up and follow. We believe in Jesus Christ. Do we believe in Him sufficiently to follow, to keep His commandments, to accept His redeeming sacrifice and love? Do we believe in Jesus enough to do His will above our own? Those times will always come when we choose ourselves over our Lord, but His love, His grace, is sufficient to lift us from despair and bring us unto Him. May we have the humility to accept all that He has done, and to simply follow Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.