The Culture of Jesus Christ is filled with love, hope, faith, endurance, strength, joy, peace and so much more. When we look around at the world today, we see the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with diverse cultures in every land. With thousands upon tens of thousands upon millions joining every year, we have become a church rich with culture and tradition, just as we were at our beginnings in the 1830’s. Remember, there are not just six of us now, therefore the small Northeastern culture which existed then has expanded until it has filled the entire world.

Elder Dallin H Oaks mormonSo how does one, when coming into the Mormon Church, know what is acceptable and what is not? I believe that answer to be very simple. When joining the Mormon Church you come into the Culture of Christ.

What is the Culture of Christ? Elder Dallin H. Oakes, a living apostle, gives us an example of a missionary he’d met:

“As I [the missionary] look back on my life,” he said, “I can hardly imagine a barefoot surfer from Hawaii completing his third mission. But when I felt the warm embrace of the Savior, I wanted to serve Him, and I changed.” Yes he did! Stanley Y. Q. Ho told me that until he was 30 years old he did nothing but “hang around the beaches at Waikiki.” Then he found the gospel, he married a Latter-day Saint girl, and he changed. Since then he has fulfilled many callings, including bishop and stake president. Now, Elder Ho and his beloved Momi, who is responsible for so many of the changes in his life, have served three full-time missions. (Dallin H. Oaks, “Repentance and Change,” Ensign, Nov 2003, 37)

The Culture of Christ effects change in one who is truly converted. As we study and learn more and more about what Jesus Christ expects of us, we shed the ways of the past and embrace that which is of Christ.

Is careless and cruel treatment of other people common in your culture? Is anger, retribution and revenge a way of life? Is drinking, doing drugs and promiscuity a way of life? Are traditions of your culture contrary to that of the gospel? Does the hierarchy in your village fight against the bishop, the recognized leader of the congregation, pitting chief against bishop? Is it common to go boating, shopping or to movies on Sundays? These must be stripped away because they cannot co-exist with the Culture of Christ.

These are rather extreme examples, but from the Holy Bible in the Book of Luke 19:8-10 we read of another instance of change:

“And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

“And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house. …

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Anything that binds you is not of Christ. Anything that crushes you as its servant (drugs, booze and other behaviors) is not of Christ. Anything that brings dependence, misery (to you or others), and pain is not of Christ. Anything that crushes your spirit is not of Christ.

Elder Oakes also points out:

The teachings of Jesus also challenged the traditions of different groups. When the scribes and Pharisees complained that His disciples “transgress[ed] the tradition of the elders” by omitting the ritual washings, Jesus replied that the scribes and Pharisees “transgress[ed] the commandment of God by [their] tradition” (Matthew 15:2–3). He described how they had “made the commandment of God of none effect by [their] tradition” (Matthew 15:6). “Hypocrites” is what He called those whose adherence to their traditions kept them from keeping the commandments of God (Matthew 15:7). (Dallin H. Oaks, “Repentance and Change,” Ensign, Nov 2003, 37)

If the traditions of our fathers limit our eternal growth (my culture is known for its boozing and brawling, my ancestors had to eschew that behavior when they joined the Church) we must forsake those traditions. We must keep that which is good in our cultures and strip away all else that cannot peacefully coexist with the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Culture of Christ is an all embracing, nourishing, rewarding way of life that will change you forever.

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