“A Practical Religion,” Ensign, Oct. 1978, 2
In the course of my experiences in life I have often been asked: “What is there about your church that would cause you to do whatever you are asked to do and go wherever you are sent to the exclusion of your personal business and social interests?”
In answering this question I have always included my testimony that the work of the Church is divine and directed by Jesus Christ and there is no more important work in which I could be engaged, and none so rewarding. Very often someone has responded, “I wish I could feel that way about religion.” Then I have tried to tell him how to go about getting a knowledge for himself that this gospel is true, and that it is the way to salvation and eternal life.
What is there in this religion that makes it so appealing to all the honest in heart who will investigate? Why is the Church growing so rapidly and gaining so many converts throughout the world? Let me list some of the reasons.
The main objective of most people is to find happiness and an inner peace which will help them to get the most out of living and to meet the problems and trials which come to all. As the philosophers say, it is not what happens to us, but how we meet it that spells the difference. And that is where religion plays an important part in our lives.
In the beginning when God created Adam and Eve, he gave them certain instructions, or commandments, and told them, in essence, that their happiness would be contingent upon their obedience to those commandments. In these latter days he has told us much the same thing when he said: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10.)
It is through religion, or the gospel, that we learn what the commandments are, or what God wants us to do and has in store for us. I challenge anyone to find anything in the gospel of Jesus Christ that is not intended to make us happy and successful, loved and respected, kind and considerate of our neighbors, community-minded, and useful citizens. When we fall short of these attributes, it is not the gospel that is at fault, but the people who are not living as they should.
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that man is eternal—that he lived as a spirit before he came to earth, and that after death he will be resurrected and will dwell in a place determined by how he kept his mortal estate. Every man may choose for himself whether or not he wishes to live forever with God, or be cast out of his presence.
One of the principles of the gospel is that the family will continue as an eternal unit. Where true love exists between husband and wife it is most comforting to know that through a special ordinance in the holy temple a man and wife are sealed for time and all eternity, and the children born of that union will be with them forever. How glorious!
A practical religion makes provision for the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of its members. Programs of the Church provide that all members assist in projects to store up supplies for time of need. On numerous occasions the storehouses have sent commodities—from bedding and furniture to food and medical supplies—all over the world to cope with a variety of disasters. We believe in the divine injunction to be our brother’s keeper.
In order to be healthy and happy, a person must live a well-rounded life. The church of Jesus Christ sponsors wholesome recreation and activity which includes camping programs, sports tournaments, and drama, dance and music festivals. Members are encouraged to develop in all the cultural arts, as well as handicraft and homemaking skills. Physical fitness through proper diet and exercise is also encouraged.
To assist in keeping our bodies clean and wholesome we have the Word of Wisdom which admonishes us to refrain from partaking of those things which will be harmful to our health. We love virtue and chastity and decry the immorality and moral decay which is so prevalent in the world today. We align ourselves with all God-fearing people who are striving to save the world from the sins of pornography, abortion, homosexuality, and other deviant sexual behavior.
We believe that the glory of God is intelligence, and we maintain schools and colleges that we “may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for [us] to understand;
“Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms.” (D&C 88:78–79.)
We are also admonished by the Lord: “Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” (D&C 6:7.)
As we seek the Lord in prayer and keep his commandments we shall understand the meaning and purpose of life. As he said, his mysteries shall be unfolded unto us, and we are indeed most fortunate to have a living prophet who can guide us in paths of truth and righteousness. There are many people who read and accept the teachings of the Bible, and who believe that prophets lived among men to teach them and warn them of the perils to come through disobedience to God’s teachings. Many of these same people do not know or understand that God’s mouthpiece lives among us today, and is warning us and trying to persuade us to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, through whose name only will mankind be saved.
By revelation we know that we are all spirit children of God. How wonderful it is to know that God loved us enough to send his Only Begotten Son in the flesh to live and die for us and to make the great atoning sacrifice. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we shall all be resurrected from the grave, and assigned to various degrees of glory or torment, according to our faithfulness.
At various times throughout the history of mankind, and again in these latter days, God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, have revealed themselves that we might know and understand their nature and attributes—that they are glorified beings with bodies, parts and passions, and that we are created in the image of God. This helps us to know that they live, and that they are separate beings, that we can pray to the Father through the Son, that they can hear and answer our prayers, and that they are deeply interested in us and want us to be happy and successful.
In order to accomplish this they have given us an organized church with instructions, or a pattern for living. The Church is directed by the priesthood of God, the greatest brotherhood in the world. We have the Relief Society for the sisters, and this organization is recognized worldwide for its great service to women. There are youth programs, and the Primary Association for little children.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is something for everyone—and a job for everyone to do. The strength of the Church is in the individual testimonies of its members, which have come through their own faith and works. Truly, we can echo the words of the Savior, describing his followers, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:20.)