People look to Christ for many different reasons, just as they did during His mortal ministry. Some came looking for miracles, some to have their daily needs met, some to try and find fault with Him, some to seek forgiveness, some to learn from Him, become His disciples, and feel His love.
What first brought you to Christ? Are your reasons the same now as they were then?
The more time that we spend getting to know Christ and emulating His behavior, the more we learn about the depths of His love for us. The more we stand in awe of what He has done for us. The more we want to share that joy with others around us. Understanding His love and recognizing the depths of our own are the elements that motivate us toward becoming better disciples of Christ.
For me, the most important part of coming to know Christ is coming to know and understand the true power of His Atonement. What a wonderfully marvelous blessing.
I think of Christ with His disciples shortly after feeding the five thousand. Many began to follow Him because of that miracle. They looked for Him to feed and take care of Him. But, when Jesus tried to invite them into His presence more fully, many turned away.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
Hearing Christ proclaim this and express His divinity was beyond their capacity to understand. They walked away.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (John 6:66-69)
Those who stayed understood more fully what Christ’s role in their lives was to be. They understood that no one else could do for them what Jesus Christ could do. Others have performed miracles, other have taught great truths, others have show great kindness and mercy — yet no other could atone for our sins and open the doors to resurrection and eternal life for us.
Jesus Christ has offered each of us the most exquisite bread, but it is still up to us whether we accept it or turn away. Discipleship is the result of accepting Christ’s Atonement, not as a one-time occurrence or a blanket effect for every human fallacy that one could commit, but as a treasured gift that we will reach for again and again.
Each time we express sorrow for our sins and inadequacies, each time we exercise repentance, each time we turn to Christ with our broken hearts and wounded souls, we come away filled to an extent we never thought possible.
When you understand and experience that type of connection, where else would you go other than the path the Savior invites you to walk with Him? How much excitement would you feel? Who would you want to share that with? Pondering and answering these questions are the heart of discipleship. We follow because we love Him and we understand His love for us.
I think a very clear example of the power of the Atonement is given in the Book of Mormon. This account by Alma the Younger is one of the most powerful testimonies of the power the Atonement I have ever come across. It’s long, but definitely worth the read.
And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.
And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God.
Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself;
For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way.
And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us.
But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.
And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.
And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs.
And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.
But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. (Alma 36:3-21)
While many of us will never go through this type of instant and dramatic change, we are familiar with the emotions associated with this account. We have come to know Christ. When we know Him and our hearts have been filled with joy through the Atonement, we will choose no other path than His. The desire to share, serve, and follow comes not from a sense of duty, but of conversion to the love, joy, peace and gratitude of the gift of the gospel; its pearl of great price.
Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (Alma 36:24)
That’s why we choose discipleship.