The other night I had a great study about the Restoration and the Apostasy. I’m grateful for the words of both ancient and modern day prophets to help clarify and guide me through life’s challenges.
Today I’m going to study the talk from the October 2011 General Conference by L. Tom Perry titled “Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear“.
The reason I’m going to study this is because, in my last study, I found that the best recommendation for sharing the gospel with people like Luke is to love them as best you can. Luke won’t be judged the same way I will be so I need to always try to emulate how Jesus would treat Luke – not arguing or trying to “prove” that I’m right and he’s wrong, simply sharing my testimony and leaving it at that.
While the Church is becoming more visible, there are still many people who do not understand it. Some have been taught to be suspicious of the Church, to operate under negative stereotypes about the Church without questioning their source and validity. There is also a great deal of misinformation and confusion about what the Church is and what it stands for. This has been true since the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
…It is true that there will always be those who will distort the truth and deliberately misrepresent the teachings of the Church. But the majority of those with questions about the Church simply want to understand. These are fair-minded people who are genuinely curious about us.
This is one thing I’ve read a few times: people aren’t bad for questioning our beliefs; they simply have questions or have been taught things that may not be completely accurate. By answering their questions in a spirit of “seeking first to understand, then to be understood” I can hopefully clarify mis-conceptions.
Elder Perry goes on to share other ideas on how I can handle these situations:
- We must be bold in our declaration of Jesus Christ. One of the talks I loved reviewing was titled “Teachings of Jesus” by Dallin H. Oaks. Talk about being “bold in our declaration of Jesus Christ”. He was very frank and to the point. (I just shared this on Facebook with a hope that Luke and other friends I have will read it.) “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).
- Be righteous examples to others. 1 Timothy 4:12: “But be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
- Speak up about the Church. I feel I’ve been using social media more and more to share my beliefs and “speak up about the Church.” I don’t know that I’ve ever been afraid to “open my mouth” :). “Engage them in a two-way conversation—share something about your religious beliefs but also ask them about their beliefs…We should appreciate and approach such conversations with Christlike love. Our tone, whether speaking or writing, should be respectful and civil, regardless of the response of others. We should be honest and open and try to be clear in what we say. We want to avoid arguing or becoming defensive in any way…We encourage people, young and old, to use the Internet and the social media to reach out and share their religious beliefs.”
I promise you that if you will respond to the invitation to share your beliefs and feelings about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a spirit of love and a spirit of courage will be your constant companion, for “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).
“In one who is wholly converted, desire for things [contrary] to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died, and substituted therefor is a love of God with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.”5
I shared the article about the teachings of Jesus on Facebook with 1,462 “friends”. I used a bit.ly link so I can see how many people actually click through.
My goal as a missionary is to share my beliefs, be guided by the Spirit, and answer questions as Jesus would, with the intent to edify and lift, never to PROVE that I’m right and the other person is wrong.
I’m looking forward to this upcoming General Conference of the Church. I hope to have specific questions in mind and be listening and searching attentively for answers.