Wednesday, October 1, 2014

TFOT: The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship

This month's TFOT was from Elder Holland in April 2014, "The Cost - And Blessings - of Discipleship." I felt like this lesson went really well and I also feel like that has absolutely nothing to do with me. There was really great class participation on this one. Many people had great stories of times they had stood up for their values. It was refreshing to hear most people say that they have been met with positive responses. One woman shared about requesting that HEB move it's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model display AWAY from the next to the kid's section. Another shared about her daughter not playing league basketball on Sundays. We talked a lot about why we are afraid to stand up for our beliefs and how we can become braver and kinder. Love was a big thing of this conversation. So I've included my outline below, but my best tip for this one is to encourage discussion and see where it goes.


Elder Holland begins his talk with a story about missionaries. These sisters were yelled at, attempted assault on, and had mashed potatoes thrown at the back of their heads. Despite wanting to turn back and yell at the man, they quietly walked away. Elder Holland uses this example to demonstrate how difficult it can be sometimes to stand as a witness of God in our times. He says:

Quote #1:
“In keeping with the Savior’s own experience, 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.””

Do you think this applies to us today? Why or why not?
Why do you think people lash out against members?
Has anyone personally experienced this (and is willing to share?)

Quote #2:
“Hate is an ugly word, yet there are those today who would say with the corrupt Ahab, “I hate [the prophet Micaiah]; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always [prophesied] evil.” That kind of hate for a prophet’s honesty cost Abinadi his life. As he said to King Noah: “Because I have told you the truth ye are angry with me. … Because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad” or, we might add, provincial, patriarchal, bigoted, unkind, narrow, outmoded, and elderly.”

Quote #3:
“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, 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.”

How does this fit in with our idea of God’s nature?
What does God’s personality teach us about how we should act as disciples?

Quote #4:
“So here we have the burden of those called to bear the messianic message. 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).”

As he points out, it can be both pleasant and painful to be a disciple. How does that affect our actions? Are we more or less willing to share, and how can we improve our discipleship?

Quote #5:
“Jesus clearly understood what many in our modern culture seem to forget: that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin (which He had an infinite capacity to do) and the warning against condoning it (which He never ever did even once).”

We want to be firm in our beliefs. We want to help others who have gone astray. But how do we do this without making people feel judged, patronized, or that we are being hypocritical? The church is full of well-intentioned people but we are people and we don’t always approach this the right way. How do we balance defending and promoting our beliefs without crossing that line into judgement and condemnation?

Love this quote: “ Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world. “ For me, the key part is that we must be trying to live as righteously as possible. People in glass houses, right? But from there approach everything with compassion. I even wonder about that story at the beginning with the mashed potatoes and the sisters. She kept walking, silently. I don’t know how dangerous the situation was, but I am interested to know about this man. What happened to him to make him so angry? Could she have changed his perception by loving him?

What are some things that Jesus did that we can do to let that Christlike love flow?
  1. Jesus “went about doing good.”  We can all do something good every day—for a family member, a friend, or even a stranger—if we will look for those opportunities.
  2. Jesus was the Good Shepherd who watched over His sheep and had concern for those that were lost.  We can seek out the lonely or those who are less active and befriend them.
  3. Jesus had compassion on many, including a poor leper.  We too can have compassion. We are reminded in the Book of Mormon that we are “to mourn with those that mourn.”
  4. Jesus bore witness of His divine mission and of His Father’s great work. For our part, we can all “stand as witnesses of God at all times.” (like the story of that Olympian who would NOT wear the red strappy dress. It’s a little thing that makes a big impact. She didn’t condemn the dress, just asked to wear something different).
  5. Jesus invited “the little children to come unto [Him].”  Our children need our attention and love as well as our care.

Elder Holland spent a lot of time talking about the burdens, but ended with a reminder about the blessings.

“Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live 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 the person of President Thomas S. Monson, point you toward the path of Christian discipleship. It is a straight path, and it is a narrow path without a great deal of latitude at some points, but it can be thrillingly and successfully traveled, “with … steadfastness in Christ, … a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall.”

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