Becoming a true disciple of Christ is my long-standing life goal. My thoughts especially turn to this goal at this time of the year. My nephew Austin Bushman makes some excellent points in his thoughts on becoming disciples of Christ that I want to share. My favorite quote below is “God loves us, not the gifts he has given us.”  Where are you on your journey to be a disciple of Christ?

Becoming Disciples of Christ

I am Austin Bushman. I have been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Barcelona Spain Mission, speaking Spanish.  I depart to the mission field at the end of December and have been reassigned to the Texas Dallas East Mission until I can go to Spain.

Austin Bushman

Austin Bushman

I wanted to share some thoughts on the topic of Coming unto Christ.

I discovered a talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell entitled “The Man of Christ” given in the April 1975 General Conference. While reading the talk, I found that it discussed the attributes of a true disciple of Christ. I firmly believe and attest to the fact that as we live as disciples of Christ we, in turn, come unto Christ, and as we come unto Christ, we become even stronger disciples of Christ.

While I do draw heavily from the above-stated talk, I will also draw upon several scriptural references, as well as additional quotes from Elder Maxwell, specifically about the subject of discipleship.  I hope that my words will resonate and the Spirit will testify of the truthfulness to each of you.

Come Unto Christ

 As we come unto Christ, we become His disciples.  I believe that disciples of Christ are those who exemplify the qualities of the Savior. They serve others and the Lord. They emulate His teachings and follow the great example of Him who obeyed with exactness, Jesus Christ.

When talking about discipleship, or being a man or woman of Christ, Elder Maxwell stated,

“He experiences the Church as a blend of action and contemplation, and knows the importance of individual involvement. … He testifies with his time as well as with tithing; he witnesses with works as well as with words; he expects perspiration to precede inspiration.” (1)

I love the first part of this statement, “a blend of action and contemplation.” (1)

As it says in the scriptures, “Faith without works is dead” (2). We must believe in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but we must also act in our faith. We must act in prayer, act in scripture, act in our church callings.

Elder Maxwell said, “Each of us is an innkeeper, and we decide if there is room for Jesus.” (3)  

Absorbing the Fiery Darts of the Adversary

As we each decide for ourselves if there is room for Jesus in our proverbial “inns,” Satan will come and use his forces to persuade us that there is not room enough for the Savior. Satan has studied and worked over centuries of time to find the most deceiving ways to divert us from the covenant path. Elder Maxwell said that a true disciple,

“marvels not…when customized challenges and temptations come his way-with soul-stretching experiences…These may constitute “but a small moment (4)” (5).” “Real disciples absorb the fiery darts of the adversary by holding aloft the quenching shield of faith with one hand, while holding to the iron rod with the other. There should be no mistaking; it will take both hands!(6)” 

I know that while Satan does have power in this world, we have even more power when we exercise our faith and stand with God.

When Moses was transfigured before God, and Satan came tempting, Moses tried to rebuke him twice but it was only the third time when Moses commanded Satan saying, “In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan.”(7) It was not just that the third time’s the charm, but the very fact that God has more power than that of Satan. Moses acted as a disciple of Christ and in faith by stating in the Name of the Only Begotten! His name is Jesus the Christ.

When we stand closer to God, Satan attacks us hard, sometimes even harder than when we aren’t being disciples and coming unto Christ. We must see his devious attacks for what they are, simply works of the devil. The road of discipleship is not easy, but it is the right path to follow.

The Apostle Paul’s Decision

We read in the scriptures the account of the Apostle Paul, who held a position in his society as a Pharisee.  He had power because he was a Pharisee. He persecuted the saints and helped to arrest many of the followers of Christ. While traveling to Damascus, Paul saw Jesus and went blind. He then became one of the foremost disciples of Christ leading many to the truthfulness of the Gospel despite all the challenges he faced. He went to prison, was criticized, hated, and eventually killed.

However, I would like to point out that it was not the heavenly visit nor his blindness that led him to be one of the main contributors in our bible. While these helped him turn unto Christ, he Came unto Christ with his actions and faith. He could have stopped persecuting the Saints and lived among them, however, he decided to become a disciple of Christ knowing, probably more than most, of the kind of persecution that awaited him should he choose to follow the life he ended up choosing to live as a disciple of Christ. 

Elder Maxwell also said, “Discipleship in our day, as in all eras, has as a goal not our being different from other men, but our need to be more like God.” (8) In each of our lives we will meet those who are not of our faith who are good people. We may look up to them and see them as an example based on some Christlike attributes they possess.  As Elder Maxwell stated, the goal is not to be different from other men or women but rather to become more like God.

How Do We Come Unto Christ and Become His Disciples?

So, how do we come unto Christ and become disciples?  Elder Maxwell remarked that a disciple is “conscious of the past and present injustices, but he knows that real remedies are to be found in contemporary Christian Compassion, and not in compensatory justice.” (9) While we all see the wrongs and issues in our society, we should focus on the love of Christ. If we act in love and not in hate, we can help to solve some of the problems we face and, in turn, create solutions. Christ’s doctrine is not one of hate, but of Love and compassion.

My bishop recently stated that we need to love our fellow men as Christ did, regardless of what political affiliation or religious beliefs they may hold.  I know that as we live by the precepts of Christ’s gospel, we will have charity enough to love our enemies and our friends. We will be able to unite with others on commonalities rather than divide and argue on our differences.

Elder Maxwell has also said, “Disciples are not perfect, but, having chosen the Christian course, they are put together with principle rather than being a bundle of appetites.” (10).  It’s important for us to remember that we aren’t perfect and we are striving to continue on the path to Christ.

As we each act and make the decision for ourselves whether to stay on the covenant path or not, we must remember to point our faces toward the everlasting Kingdom of God. As Elder Maxwell eloquently stated, a disciple “knows that having put his hand to the plow he must not look back, because when we are looking back, we are also holding back.” (11) 

John Tanner

 One of many examples of disciples not holding back is that of one of my ancestors on the Bushman side, John Tanner. John Tanner had an infectious disease that caused an open sore in his leg. Being a self-made wealthy man, he was able to see many physicians and doctors in the New York area where he lived. All prescribed an amputation of his leg. Refusing to depart with his leg, he started setting his affairs in order in preparation of his death. One day he noticed a flyer to come and hear missionaries from the newly formed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After meeting with the missionaries for a time, they proposed baptism, and while John believed in all the words the missionaries had taught him, he could not be baptized because of the infection in his leg. Having the authority to administer in the priesthood, one of the missionaries healed John Tanner’s leg and commanded him to walk.

John, upon receiving the blessing and exercising his faith, stood and was healed. He then immediately walked the three-quarters of a mile to a lake and was baptized that night, beginning his discipleship on the chosen course. He gave up coffee and strong drink upon hearing the Word of Wisdom.

One night, he dreamed he was needed in Kirtland. Upon arriving in Kirtland, he loaned $45,000 to the Church and Temple committees. Throughout his time with the Saints, he literally gave everything he had. Whenever he was asked to do something, he did it. When moving to Missouri to help build the church in that area, he had given so much to the Church and others that all he had was a borrowed wagon, a broken horse and $7.50 in cash. John Tanner continued to serve the Lord in multiple ways including leaving his wife and children for a time to serve a mission. I am at awe of the faith he had and the way he acted in becoming a disciple of Christ.

Scarlet Bushman

A more recent example of coming unto Christ and becoming a disciple that has affected me very personally is that of my mom, Scarlet. When she was 16, my mom started searching for answers to the questions she had about God, religion, her spiritual well-being, and relationship with Christ. When her church leaders could not answer the questions she had, she began going to her friends’ congregations and churches to see if she could find answers on her own.

Missionaries were at her aunt and uncle’s house helping them move and asked if they could come teach her family the gospel discussions.  She received permission from her parents and she and her siblings began meeting with the missionaries.  The missionaries were able to answer all the questions she had.  As they taught her about the gospel and Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost helped her know the truth and resolved the questions she had.  She and her siblings were baptized shortly after the discussions and she has been on the path of discipleship ever since. 

She has been a huge example of discipleship to me. She has helped me learn the gospel throughout my life and has helped me find how the Holy Ghost talks to me. I see her commitment to come unto Christ in her everyday actions and words.

God Loves Us, Not the Gifts He Has Given Us

I believe that when we truly become the disciples of our Lord and continue to consecrate our time to Him, we can see the ways the Lord will use us to be an example and Light to the World. By being an example, we can help others come unto Christ. God has given us the gifts and blessings we need to be His disciples.

Austin Bushman

Austin Bushman

I love this quote by Elder Maxwell that reads, “Each day we decide the degree of our discipleship. Each day we answer the question, “Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?(12)” (13)”  As disciples who are striving to come unto Christ, we must love Him and we must realize “…that God loves us, not the gifts he has given us.”(14)

I know that we can be as King Benjamin’s people, we can be disciples of Christ. As it states in the scriptures, “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters.”(15)

What Matters Is What We Have Become

I would like to close with a final quote from Elder Maxwell.

What finally matters, brothers and sisters, is what we have become. There will be no puffed vitas circulating in the next world. They stay here-in the files. What we will take with us- to the degree we have developed them- will be the cardinal qualities that Jesus has perfected; these are eternal and portable.”(16) 

These are the qualities we develop as we come unto Christ and become His disciples. Again, as the chaos of the world seems to continue to grow ever challenging, we must remember thatreal disciples absorb the fiery darts of the adversary by holding aloft the quenching shield of faith with one hand, while holding to the iron rod with the other. There should be no mistaking; it will take both hands!(6)

I know that this is the true and everlasting Church. I know that by striving to live by the precepts it teaches, we can become worthy to enter into that heavenly rest. As disciples of Christ, we can emulate His teachings and His example in our actions toward others. 

Coming unto Christ means that we are acting as He would act, serving as He would serve, and loving others as He would love others.  I am not perfect, but I can have a perfect love for Christ and do my best to come unto Him in all I do and say.  I have faith in and know of the reality of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

I say these things in the name of the Only Begotten Jesus Christ, Amen.

To read more of Delisa’s articles, click here.

Sources:
  1.     The Man of Christ April 1975 General Conference Neal A. Maxwell
  2.     James 2:26
  3.     Searching for God in America, page 129. Elder Neal A. Maxwell
  4.     D&C 121:7
  5.     The Man of Christ April 1975 General Conference Elder Neal A. Maxwell
  6.     Ensign, May 1987 page 70. See also Ephesians 6:16; 1 Nephi 15:24; D&C 27:17
  7.     Moses 1:21
  8.     A Time to Choose page 16 Elder Neal A. Maxwell
  9.     The Man of Christ April 1975 General Conference Elder Neal A. Maxwell
  10.   A Time to Choose page 44-45 Elder Neal A. Maxwell
  11.   The Man of Christ April 1975 General Conference Elder Neal A. Maxwell
  12.   Hymn 260
  13.   Ensign, May 1992 page 39
  14.   The Man of Christ April 1975 General Conference Elder Neal A. Maxwell
  15.   Mosiah 5:7
  16.   Out of the Best Faculty page 48 Elder Neal A. Maxwell

About Delisa Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.

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