The path of a disciple of Jesus Christ was never meant to be easy. Sometimes, it may feel like the journey along this path requires more than we have to offer. One reason for this difficulty is because this path requires us to 'lose' ourselves in the service of Christ. Another reason is that the path will expose our weakness and cause us to experience sorrow as we recognize our sins, limitations, and imperfections. This sorrow is not meant to hurt us, but to motivate us to change and look to Christ as the source of all hope. As we are humble and struggle to make these changes, we will begin to see the beauty of repentance and rejoice in the hope that comes from '[tasting] and [knowing] of the goodness of Jesus' (Mormon 1:15). We will recognize His help during our darkest as well as our brightest moments. We will feel His hand lifting us, giving us the strength to overcome the trials, temptations, and obstacles that litter our path. The reality is—in the process of 'losing' our life in the service of Christ—we will truly find it. Because of the goodness of Jesus, we can live faithfully despite the evil and wickedness around us (see: October 26-November 1, 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families).
Lovest Thou Me More Than These?
Jesus taught his disciples, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' (Matthew 16:24-26). Jesus exemplified this principle throughout his life. His commitment to do the will of the Father is evident when He said, 'I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me' (John 5:30).
After witnessing the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter and other apostles turned their focus back to what was familiar and went 'a fishing' (John 21:3). After toiling all night and having caught nothing, Jesus came to them, asking, 'Children, have ye any meat?' (John 21:5). After answering that they had caught nothing, Jesus said, 'Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find' (John 21:6). At this request, these faithful disciples, though a little lost, let down their nets. As had happened just three years earlier, the nets were filled to overflowing.
Back on shore, Jesus asked Peter, 'lovest thou me more than these?' (John 21:15). The word 'these' could be anything that stood between Peter and Christ. Jesus could have asked, 'Peter, do you love me more than you love anything else, including your old life?' At that moment, Christ taught Peter that to follow Him meant Peter's life was never going to be what it once was. To lose oneself in the service of God is to be willing to walk with Christ regardless of the destination. This requirement is certainly expected of modern disciples. The path of discipleship is designed to reveal 'these' things in our lives so we can eliminate them. In this process, we may feel as if we are losing part, or all, of ourselves. However, the Savior assured us that in losing 'these' things, we are, in reality, losing nothing and gaining everything.
Christ’s Infinite Goodness
The prophet Mormon is an example of one who was willing to 'lose himself' for Christ's sake. As a young boy, Mormon was described as a 'sober child' and 'quick to observe' (Mormon 1:2). Because he was serious about discipleship, Mormon was 'visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus' (Mormon 1:15). My heart aches with Mormon as he describes his effort to inspire his people, saying, 'Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts' (Mormon 3:12).
When I think of Mormon, I am certain that there were times he struggled with feelings of inadequacy and failure. He certainly knew the story of Captain Moroni hoisting the title of liberty. I am sure it was in the back of his mind when he 'urged [his people] with great energy, that they would stand boldly before the Lamanites and fight for their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes' (Mormon 2:23). We see his struggle when he says, 'my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days' (Mormon 2:19).
In a touching message to his son Moroni, near the end of his life, Mormon says, 'I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end' (Moroni 8:3). It is Mormon's experience with the goodness of Jesus that planted the seed of hope and gave him the power to endure the darkest moments on his path of discipleship. It was this same hope that Mormon endeavored to plant in the heart of Moroni. It is the same hope that will sustain us today.
Jesus Stood at 'My Door' and Knocked
From the great healer of the human family comes the following invitation, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me' (Revelation 3:20).
I experienced this invitation for the first time as a young man. As I struggled with the difficulties of youth, I began to have unmistakeable feelings that my life had value and that God cared about me. I had been taught the principles of the gospel and recognized these feelings as an invitation to change. I felt that God was telling me that I could become something more than I thought I could. I began to feel that God loved me more than I could comprehend.
I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I recognized that the door Christ was knocking at was 'my door.' I knew He was reaching out to me. Though I was weak, I recognized His arm of mercy had been stretched out to me 'all the day long' (Jacob 6:4). When I needed Him most, I cried out, only to realize that He was already there. All I had to do was let Him in.
These experiences, and many others, have sustained me throughout my life. Like Mormon, I have 'tasted and [know] of the goodness of Jesus' (Mormon 1:15). Over time, I have learned that my attitude and attention to Christ are what connects me to the comfort and guidance of the Holy Ghost. I am grateful for the goodness of Jesus. His tender mercies have sustained me all my life. Because of His goodness, I have hope for the future. It is His infinite goodness and grace that will sustain us along the path of discipleship through endurance and faith on His name to the end.