I used to think that “the gospel” meant all the teachings of Christ, all the things he asked of us. That is, until the most annoying kid I ever taught in Sunday school taught me otherwise.
“I knew a good number of you here, and many of you knew me before I served a mission. But I wish you hadn’t. I wasn’t a good kid. I wish you could all just know me as I am today.”
He was right, he wasn’t the most well-behaved kid in our congregation. I taught him at age 16. He would tilt back in his chair, play on his phone, and rarely participate in the discussion, even when prompted. After he graduated High School, I had little hope he would continue along the path of discipleship, but after a year, he returned—and with a mission call to a foreign country in hand.
I was shocked. How did this happen? It was absolutely a miracle!
He had been changed by acting on his faith.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is what changes people. That is what I saw on my mission,” he continued. He shared several stories of conversions and service, but kept coming back to the doctrine of Christ and it’s power to literally change lives. I feel silly admitting my lack of understanding of this very foundational principle of Christianity, but as he continued to speak, it all became clear.
Just as accounted in Hebrews 6, he shared the 5 pieces of the doctrine and what they mean for each of us. (This also appears in 2 Nephi 31.)
4). Laying on of Hands
5). Enduring to the end
And the more I pondered these principles, my experiences with them, and how they had changed my life, I began to see my world in a whole different way.
This young man had changed because he had stopped sitting by, stopped idly participating in his life. He had found a way to move forward and get to a place where he could ask God what path was right for him, trusting in whatever answer was right and then acting on it.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel based on action:
When we have faith, we have the courage to step forward and be obedient to what has been asked of us, even in the simplest way, like attending church or praying.
When we are repentant, we have the humility possible to step forward to confess and speak with God that we might change our behavior and become a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
When we are baptized, we use our actions to commit to following Christ throughout our lives.
When we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we commit to listen with our hearts for direction and to act on it.
When we endure to the end, we choose to continue to walk towards Christ, even when it is hard.
Each of these steps takes real action, not just once, but repeatedly through our lives. And each subsequent choice helps us build more faith.
Elder Bednar teaches:
True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to righteous action.”Bednar, David, A., “Ask in Faith.” Ensign, May 2008
Faith is a principle of action. And when we act righteously, it can change our very natures. It did for this young man. When he finally submerged himself in God’s word, it gave him the strength and faith to back up his belief with actions. He acted in faith. And it changed him—it changed who he was and how he acted!
True faith eliminates rationalization. It leads to self-examination, which leads to sincere repentance and meaningful growth.”Webb, Chad, H., “Faith as a Principle of Action and Power,” Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Annual Training Broadcast, June 13, 2017
Faith is not just a hope or a wish of things to come, but a trust in God as we do the right thing—even when it’s hard.
Faith also means that you will do what God asks, even when it only makes sense to you and Him, in a time when critics are everywhere, that you will still do it. When we act in faith even when the results can cause more work for us now, yet bring us blessings in the eternity, our power will increase, because we trust in Him. And He is both mighty to save and to strengthen.
If that teenager was able to do it, surely so can we.
Will you let your faith change you? Will you act on your faith?
Featured image by Rhonda Steed, A Worldwide Sisterhood Team