Decisive or Divisive?

by | Jan 25, 2021 | Devotional | 0 comments

olive_branch_bible.jpg

Today’s article appeared in the October 2020 issue of The Gospel News in the Editorial Viewpoint column.

“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” – from the Testimony of Joseph Smith

This divine message delivered 200 years ago left no room for doubt in Joseph’s mind about joining any of the religions of that time. It was a decisive moment for him, one that required a revolutionary shift in his thinking. But it was a major milestone in the plan that God had ordained from the world’s foundation. The ancient records that we now know as the Book of Mormon lay buried in a hillside not far from the Smiths’ home, and it was God’s due time for them to come forth.

A shift in thinking was likewise required when we (or our progenitors) joined The Church of Jesus Christ. At some point, accepting the Restored Gospel—like salvation itself—involved a decision to believe and receive what the Lord had revealed.

Over the years, some in the Church experienced rejection and persecution when they turned from former religions and past ways of life. The Bible records many instances where tribulation, persecution, and rejection befell God’s servants; this occurred in our day as well. In other cases, friction developed not between the saints and unbelievers, but with other Christian believers, with doctrine being the divisive element. Whether in answering questions about our beliefs, or from being deliberately provoked, when discussions focus on differences they can lead to contention, which Jesus taught comes not from Him, but is of the devil (3 Nephi 11:29).

Sharing the Gospel, “planting and watering” (1 Corinthiains 3:6), doesn’t always require going into the history of the apostasy and restoration, at least not initially. It’s more in the meat category than it is milk (Hebrews 5:12), and if care and discernment aren’t exercised, Joseph Smith’s testimony can be taken as an attack on people’s beliefs, ending opportunities for further discussion. As the Lord did with Joseph Smith, with Saul (who became the Apostle Paul), and countless others who sought His truth, He knows the time, the place, and the means of turning each of us to it.

As we see spiritual warfare between good and evil escalating in today’s world, I envision us being compelled to focus more on our commonality when encountering other believers in Christ. Jesus told His disciples who boasted about preventing someone outside their circle from doing miracles in His name, “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50). The need for restoration wasn’t about the believers; the problem was with institutions, not individuals.

If the beauty and power of the Restored Gospel shine forth from us, they can have a decisive, not divisive, effect on people’s lives. We rejoiced earlier this year when leaders of the Navajo Nation invited a group of our brothers and sisters, including the presidents of our General Church and Quorum of Seventy, to join them on a goodwill trip to Israel, along with representatives from other churches. That invitation was extended not from debating doctrine, but as the result of years—decades, actually—of putting into practice the blessed truths contained in the Gospel that Jesus restored.

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Further Reading

Dear Busy Parent

Dear Busy Parent, Keeping the kids alive, shuttling them to and from their various activities and schools and daycares, working in order to afford said activities and to survive, taking care of meals and making sure the house is clean and the yard is tidy...there...

Read More

The Mom and the Butterfly

I homeschool my two little boys, and for our last "fun" science project of the school year, we got one of those caterpillar-to-butterfly kits. Over the course of about two weeks, we watched with delight and disgust as six caterpillars munched their way through a...

Read More

Never Miss a New Article

Subscribe to Our Email List
Sign up and get every new blog post sent straight to your inbox so you always have the day’s devotional at your fingertips.

We never share your email address with anyone for any reason, and we use it only to send you Gospel Blog emails. Just articles, not ads!

Your Story for God’s Glory

Share Your Testimony on Miracle Monday

We devote Miracle Monday to sharing miracle stories. From finding a lost wedding ring to healing cancer on the spot, Jesus Christ has done it all, big and small.

And we want to hear about what He’s done for you.

The Gospel Blog Is Open for Submissions

We encourage devotional-style or scripture-based articles in the ballpark of 500 words. We are open to any topic that glorifies God and unites the Church.