My study of Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families resources during the past three years has given me a valuable insight. In 2019, we studied in-depth the mortal experiences of the Saviour as recorded in the New Testament. Each day we read about His teachings, His selecting the disciples, His suffering, Crucifixion, and glorious Resurrection. Then, our focus shifted as our studies moved on to the Epistles. Paul was especially challenging to me, but it was more than the challenge that had changed for me. I was still praying and reading my scriptures. Somehow, though, the focus was not as clear. Jesus Christ was not the centre of my study as He was in my study of the Gospels. I felt an absence. Something had certainly shifted.
My suffering has taught me there is strength, peace, and comfort to be found in Jesus Christ. There is power in the very thought of Him. As I write these words and think of the influence of Jesus Christ in my daily life, the Holy Spirit is present and witnessing to me the reality of our Redeemer’s existence and love for us. I am learning no matter what scriptures I may study, my life is better when I focus my thoughts, actions, and efforts on Jesus and invite His loving presence into my day.
Focusing Our Scripture Study on Jesus Christ
Elder Robert D Hales, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. … ‘The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles’ (ChurchofJesusChrist.org) was prepared in advance of when we will need it most.” (“General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 7). It is my hope that as I follow the counsel of living Prophets and Apostles, I will move closer to the Lord.
The Lord is generous and kind and continually provides the tools I need to navigate this mortal journey. “The Living Christ” is a collective testimony given by 15 prophets, seers, and revelators to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the Lord’s birth. All 15 who signed that declaration had been called as “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23). Their words have extraordinary authority and power. This unique document prepared 21 years ago helps me focus on Jesus Christ and invites His presence into my daily life.
I need the Living Christ now. The world is filled with conflicting and confusing voices. The testimony in “The Living Christ” helps me remember that the life of Jesus Christ is central to my life and purpose in mortality. His actions in mortality show me the way I should live. He is the creator of all things. He lives still, and the power of His Atonement enables me to face my life with strength and heavenly guidance. Jesus Christ is my source of hope and light.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf explains: “Jesus Christ is the most powerful motivating force in our lives. Jesus repeatedly emphasized the power of good thoughts and proper motives: ‘Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not’ (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36). The testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel will help us in our lives to learn of God’s specific plan for us and then to act accordingly” (“The Power of a Personal Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 37).
I have a friend who has memorized “The Living Christ”. The scriptures teach “as [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he [or she]” (Proverbs 23:7). I see great value in having the testimony of the Apostles of the Lord present in my mind. The ability to reflect on those words whenever I choose will be a powerful tool to feel the ongoing comfort of the Holy Ghost. Such memorization remains an ongoing effort for me. In the meantime, the words and the Spirit of God that accompany them are available to me in mere seconds as I access them in the Gospel Library on my electronic devices.
Let Us Strengthen Our Testimonies of Jesus Christ
The power of God can enter our hearts and minds as we read the words of pure testimony recorded by these 15 special witnesses of Jesus Christ. That power can be magnified when we hear their voices bear testimony of these truths. Elder D. Todd Christofferson explains: “I sense that there is a longing to hear the testimony of an Apostle. [That is] the one thing that most satisfies those who come and participate. …I think people appreciate all the instruction and counsel and answers to questions and so forth, but the thing they most cherish is to hear that testimony. It isn’t that they don’t have it themselves—we are sharing a testimony that most anyone who hears it also possesses—but that being the first and foremost responsibility of an Apostle, to bear witness of Christ … has the greatest impact.” (“Let the Holy Spirit Guide” [sandy leadership training, Dec. 2011], ProphetsandApostles.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
This truth is manifested in the Spirit that can be felt as one listens to the First Presidency and the Apostles at the Rome Italy Temple dedication recite “Excerpts from ‘The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles’,” (video.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, Mar. 2019). The Gospel Library also provides short video testimonies of each of the living Apostles. I find the Spirit envelops and strengthens me as I take a few minutes to listen to the living witnesses of Jesus Christ. My day is made better despite the mortal challenges I might face. Jesus knows of our needs, and He continues to provide us with multiple ways to #HearHim.
Every moment we spend reading about, pondering upon, and striving to understand the great sacrifice that our Saviour made in our behalf is a moment of added strength to our lives. Our lives in the present are enriched by our actions to include Him in each day of our lives. We can choose to follow in His footsteps day-by-day. We may not feed 5000 in one day, but we can follow Him and feed someone today. One small step in following Jesus today will find us on the path to becoming like Him.