In “We Are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints“, Sister Reyna I. Aburto states “The Church is more than the buildings and the ecclesiastical structure: the Church is us, the members, with Christ at the head and the prophet as His mouthpiece.” If we are the Church, then what does it mean to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
In Mosiah 18:8-10, Alma defines the responsibilities of a member of Christ’s church as follows:
“8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are adesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as cwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the dfirst resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being abaptized in the bname of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a ccovenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”
Accordingly, a member’s responsibilities are:
- Be called the people of Christ
- Bear one another’s burdens
- Willing to mourn with those in mourning
- Comfort those who need comforting
- Stand as a witness of God anywhere and anytime
- Be baptized and make covenants with God
- Serve God
- Keep His commandments
All of these responsibilities are not possible if one hasn’t been and is continuing to be converted. I read an interesting article on conversion and disaffection in Public Square Magazine. The article quotes a story from Truman Madsen that I think is pertinent to describing ourselves as members of the church. To quote from the article:
“For the social scientist, then, it is not really possible to understand a person’s full experience as a Latter-day Saint without understanding their level of conversion. Scholar Truman Madsen once related a conversation with a friend who was in the process of leaving the faith, where Madsen asked a series of questions to probe the depth of his conversion:
Have you ever prayed and been lifted beyond yourself, both in the manner and the content of your expressions, so that it became more than a dialogue with yourself? Have you ever had the experience … of feeling the wounds on your soul being lifted, being filled with a spirit that warms, and being quickened with a hunger and a thirst to return to the sacrament table where you find healing? Have you ever felt God’s power flow to you as you have been ordained to a calling? Have you felt it as you have ordained someone else to a calling?
Madsen recalled that his friend had almost none of these kinds of experiences, whereas Madsen had most of them. He remarked to his friend ‘you’re not about to leave the church, as you say; you’ve never even been in it.’”
Being a member of the church is more than just having your name on the records. It is more than showing up and “doing” your calling. It is a deeper relationship where your will is swallowed up in the will of God. Being a member means you love all of God’s children because God loves them.
I’m learning that the gospel is a continuous process in all areas. There are no “one and done” type events to it. Just as conversion is a process, so too is being a member of the church. Every day we should strive to be better in each of the areas Alma has listed. Every day we should work on our relationship with Heavenly Father.
Christ taught that we should let our light shine upon the world. The world will then see our goodness and know that it comes from God. The world can then ascribe that goodness to God and glorify Him (Matthew 5:16). Being a member of the Church and being converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, allows us to be a light and, like moths to a flame, people are drawn to that light. People see us and want to know why we shine. We are then able to share the gospel and let them choose to follow that light back to God.
The Primary song “The Church of Jesus Christ” contains the following lyrics:
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I know who I am.
I know God’s plan.
I’ll follow Him in faith.
I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ.
I’ll honor His name.
I’ll do what is right;
I’ll follow His light.
His truth I will proclaim.Children’s Songbook – The Church of Jesus Christ
This is what it means to be a member of the Church. We know who we are. We know God’s plan. We follow that plan and work on our conversion every day. We honor Christ’s name and it shows in our words and actions. We share the gospel with others. This is what makes us, as Sister Aburto stated, the Church of Christ.