What is at the Heart of the Matter?
Are we uncomfortable with the name of Christ?
This week we begin studying The Book of Mormon for our in-home Come, Follow Me studies. I am reminded of an insight my institute teacher and friend offered when studying the first chapter of Nephi:
Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard.
And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.
And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. (1 Nephi 1:18-20; emphasis mine)
A careful reading of the verses, which I had overlooked for years in the dozens of times reading the first chapter of Nephi, shows the Jews mocking the prophet Lehi when he testified of their destruction. It wasn’t until Lehi prophesied of Christ that they became angry to the point of wanting to kill him. Think about that for a moment.
The last couple of weeks have been interesting in that I’ve seen increasing angst over my online presence and against those who share my worldview. I have become accustomed to ignoring the cries of outright enemies of the Church – they are ever-increasing in number and hostility as the world turns more and more secular and those with a faith-based worldview are constantly in the line of fire. What is disturbing to me is when fellow Latter-day Saints express their desire for me to shut up. I’ve been pondering and asking myself why.
I’ve come to a hypothesis recently that I’d like to explain. I had a friend in second grade come up to me and ask, “Are you a Mormon?” I was in a bit of shock that I would be asked such a question in school. I whispered shyly that I was and watched as he walked around the classroom asking everyone the same question. It made me very uncomfortable. It was something I got over, apparently, as I’ve been on the other end of similar conversations at work, at school, and in every other situation imaginable. The look of terror in other people’s faces when religion is brought up publicly. The world has won by making the sharing of one’s beliefs taboo. So much for the First Amendment.
Now what happens is even those who supposedly believe in the same things you do become upset, even angry, at the mention of Christ in the public square. “You’re making the Church look bad!!!” they screech at the top of their lungs. How? By proclaiming my beliefs openly? The same beliefs that can be found in any Church source? By not shutting up? By not laying down and letting the world win? There’s a reason why we hear missionary messages during Conference every six months: we stink at opening our mouths. For most, it is considered rude and impolite to bring up the name of our Savior. Some are afraid of the anger his name invokes…while others are incited to anger themselves at hearing public testimony. Is it because of the shame they have in their own beliefs? Are they upset that they could be associated with a religion the world despises?
Newsflash to the easily discomforted: The world already thinks we’re weird. The world already despises us. The world is increasingly incited to anger simply for invoking faith, religion, the name of Christ. Openly embracing our faith doesn’t make it look bad, but it sets us apart as a light for others desperately looking through the midst of darkness. They won’t find us by our adapting to the world. Stand out or soon it won’t be long until you’re not just watching the stone-throwers idly, but actively throwing stones, too.
- Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020, January 6-12.
- “Sustaining the Prophets” -Elder Russell M. Nelson, October 2014
- “Murmur Not” -Elder Neal A. Maxwell, October 1989
You can follow Dustin on Twitter at @TheDMT1232.