Monday, September 19, 2011

The Essence of Discipleship

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Essence of Discipleship, by Silvia H. Allred
First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency

We had a church meeting in a new (to us) building yesterday. As is our family custom, I took my children to explore the building and look at the pictures on the hallway walls before the meeting started. I like doing this because it reminds me of how much my children know and can determine from a simple picture they may or may not have ever seen!

While we were having a good time with this activity, we came upon a picture that my son said was "Christ with the disciples."

As I lovingly corrected that the men were apostles, I followed up by asking him if he knew the difference between an apostle and a disciple. Of course he knew! He told me that he is a disciple of Christ because he follows him and that the apostles are disciples who help lead the Church.

My son knows that he is a disciple!

Besides simply believing in Christ, what marks one as a disciple? Sister Allred taught that the essence of discipleship involves loving service:

When love becomes the guiding principle in our care for others, our service to them becomes the gospel in action. It is the gospel in its finest moment. It is pure religion.

Do others know that we're disciples?

To answer this, I'll use a story: I go to work early and usually work alone for a few hours before I'm joined by colleagues. This morning, my friend came in shortly after 5am and we shared a laugh that I had already been there for over an hour. In the ensuing conversation, he ultimately asked what it is that makes me so different from others.

What would you say?

I gave a brief account of my conversion and decision to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. I also told that this time of service helped to solidify the decisions I had made to be a better person, gain an education, and be different.

Interestingly, he told me that he is "half-Mormon." Apparently his mother is LDS (his father is Methodist). He told me of her decision to serve a mission later in life and the time she spent in the Philippines as a missionary.

This is all great, but what stood out to me was his description of how the final years of her life were difficult with health problems and a lack of resources. Despite these troubles, he told me that the Church members were amazing in their loving service of his mother. He told how she always paid her tithes and offerings and was blessed with help, friends, and comfort in a difficult time.

What I read from the story's conclusion was that my friend's mother was a disciple who benefited from other true disciples of Christ.

The pure love of Christ is expressed as we give selfless service. Helping one another is a sanctifying experience which exalts the receiver and humbles the giver. It helps us become true disciples of Christ.

My son knows he's a disciple. I know I'm trying to be a true disciple, too. But can others tell that I'm a disciple of Christ when they see that I'm different?

I hope there's more to my different-ness than going to work early; I want to develop the essence of discipleship so I can be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.

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