I’ve discussed that “identity” is one of the themes of the October 2021 General Conference. I’ve mainly discussed it in terms of our individual identity as children of God. In “The Name of the Church Is Not Negotiable“, Elder Neil L. Anderson discusses the identity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Christ Names His Church
In the scriptures there are two places where the identity of the church is given by Christ himself. The first is in The Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 27:3-22. Here the Lord gives us the reasons for His church to carry His name:
- We must take upon us the name of Christ (verse 6)
- Cannot be His church if it carries another name (verse 8)
- His church is built upon HIs gospel (verses 9-10)
- Members of His church know the things that we must do in His church (verse 21)
The second instance is found in Doctrine and Covenants 115:3-4 “And also unto my faithful servants who are of the high council of my church in Zion, for thus it shall be called, and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world; For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
The Lord, in verse five, then tells the members of the church to “Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations”. In other words if you are member of His church you need to show that you represent Him.
Why Is the Identity of the Church Important?
What’s the big deal if we don’t identify the church properly? I believe the answer to this question has its ties all the way back to the premortal council in Heaven. In that council, Heavenly Father presented His plan. Once presented, Satan volunteered to be the Savior, but one one condition, that he got all the honor and glory. Christ then volunteered to be our Savior stating that the honor and glory should go to God whose plan it was.
In the same way Heavenly Father’s plan is to bring honor and glory to Him, the identity of the church must bring honor and glory to our Savior Jesus Christ. In sports we don’t honor and glorify the Red Sox if the Dodgers win the World Series. In the same way, if we are the Mormon church then the honor and glory would be to Mormon, not Christ.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, everything we do should be a reflection of His gospel. We are not perfect beings and will stumble at times. However, if we are striving to be like the Savior, we will be blessed to become more like Him.
The Church Symbol Reflects Its Identity
A few years ago the church adopted a new symbol:
This symbol was adopted to help convey the identity of the church and it being centered on Jesus Christ. President Nelson stated when introducing the symbol “At the center of the symbol is a representation of Thorvaldsen’s marble statue the Christus. It portrays the resurrected, living Lord reaching out to embrace all who will come unto Him. Symbolically, Jesus Christ is standing under an arch [reminding] us of the resurrected Savior emerging from the tomb.” (Russell M. Nelson, “Opening the Heavens for Help,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2020, 73)
The symbol conveys the reasons Christ gave to the Nephites described above. It shows that we are centered on Christ and His gospel. We celebrate HIs role as Savior and Redeemer. We recognize that through His atonement “all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (Articles of Faith 1:3)
Identity was a major theme of the October 2021 General Conference. The identity of Christ’s church is as important to the world as our identity as children of God is to us. Everything we do identifies us as disciples of Jesus Christ and sharing His gospel with all.