Sunday, June 8, 2014

MANY ARE CALLED By Ronda Hinrichsen

The fourteen through eighteen-year-olds in our stake recently attended a pioneer trek youth conference. They, like our ancestors, faced torrential rain, lack of food and sleep, difficult terrain, and frequently altered courses due to the weather; but also like our forebears, they learned a vital, eternal lesson: we, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are all in “this”—life, the church, and furthering God’s work—together.

There are many steps to achieving this accord, such as unified prayer, repenting of our sins, and forgiving others; but another important but often overlooked requirement is receiving, accepting, and fulfilling callings from our Priesthood leadership. In truth, how we respond to our callings holds at least three eternal consequences.

1) Consider the scriptural account of Christ gathering his disciples. While walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus Christ called to Simon called Peter and Andrew and told them to follow Him, and “they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-22). Then in Luke 6:13, we read, “And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chosetwelve, whom also he named apostles” (bold added).

In the preceding texts, I bolded the words “follow,” “called,” and “chose,” because they indicate that before Christ can “choose” his elect, he will first “call” them: “There has been a day of calling, but the time has come for a day of choosing; and let those be chosen that are worthy. And it shall be manifest unto my servant, by the voice of the Spirit, those that are chosen; and they shall be sanctified” (D&C 105:35-36). Thus, if we do not initially accept the call to follow Him, how can we hope to be sanctified among His elect at the last day? The parable of the ten virgins in which half were excluded from the bridegroom’s feast reveals similar repercussions (Matt. 25:1-13).

 Christ said, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). Thus, any calling we receive through Priesthood authority is an invitation from Christ to follow Him, to become like Him, to learn to know Him. President Howard W. Hunter described it this way:

"The Lord’s invitation to follow him is individual and personal, and it is compelling. We cannot stand forever between two opinions. Each of us must at some time face the crucial question: “Whom say ye that I am?” (Matt. 16:15) Our personal salvation depends on our answer to that question and our commitment to that answer. . . To follow an individual means to watch him or listen to him closely; to accept his authority, to take him as a leader, and to obey him; to support and advocate his ideas; and to take him as a model.”

3) As the parable of the talents implies, we each have gifts and abilities only we can magnify to lift others and further the Lord’s Kingdom. In fact, those are the purposes for those gifts:

"And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand? Also the body hath needof every member that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect" (D&C 84:109-110).

True, callings in the church frequently come at inconvenient or uncomfortable times; and often, they seem beyond our abilities to accomplish them, but are those satisfactory reasons not to accept them? Each of us, just like our forefathers, must answer that question for him or herself; but I hope, before we do, we will ponder this statement by President James E. Faust:

"To stay on the right track, we must honor and sustain those who hold the presiding priesthood keys. We are reminded that many are “called, but few are chosen.” When are we chosen? We are chosen by the Lord only when we have done our best to move this holy work forward through our consecrated efforts and talents."

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