A life of discipleship may be difficult, but it is worth it, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught during his conference address on Saturday morning.
“You will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said. “Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part.”
In keeping with the Savior’s own experience, Elder Holland said “there has been a long history of rejection and a painfully high price paid by prophets and apostles, missionaries and members in every generation all those who have tried to honor God’s call to lift the human family to ‘a more excellent way.’”
There are costs of discipleship, but there are also great blessings, the apostle taught.
“You may wonder if it is worth it to take a courageous moral stand in high school, or to go on a mission only to have your most cherished beliefs reviled, or to strive against much in society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion,” he said. “Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our ‘houses’ left unto us ‘desolate’ — desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods and desolate nations … (see Matthew 23:37-38).
“In addition to teaching, encouraging and cheering people on — that is the pleasant part of discipleship — from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn and sometimes just to weep — that is the painful part of discipleship,” he said. “They know full well that the road leading to the Promised Land ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ of necessity runs by way of Mount Sinai flowing with ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots.’”
Unfortunately, messengers of divinely mandated commandments are often no more popular today than they were anciently, Elder Holland said.
“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods and smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds. Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes — and this seems the greatest irony of all — these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of ‘comfortable’ God. Really?”
Just as Christ understood and taught, individuals must remember — even though many in the modern culture seem to forget — that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin, which Christ had an infinite capacity to do, and the warning against condoning it, which He never ever did even once. That pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world because righteousness accompanies it, he said.
“Now be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t have it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them. A long history of inspired voices, including those you will hear in this conference, and the voice you just heard in Thomas S. Monson, point you toward the path of Christian discipleship.”