2022
Gathered in His Light: Avoiding Bondage


“Gathered in His Light: Avoiding Bondage,” For the Strength of Youth, Oct. 2022.

Gathered in His Light: Avoiding Bondage

As you live righteously, you will not only escape bondage from the adversary, but you will also become an example of hope and light to others.

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Gathered in His Light

Illustrations by Maggie Stephenson

We’ve all felt alone at one time or another. In fact, you might have even felt alone recently. But the wonderful thing about the gospel is that, wherever you are, you can still feel like you belong. This can be true even if there are few Church members nearby.

In our own family, we spent 33 years on the San Francisco Peninsula in the United States. I don’t think there was ever a time when there was more than one other member in the high school classes of our children.

Even so, throughout those years, we knew the Lord had gathered us together as part of the house of Israel. We felt a sense of belonging as we lived the gospel. As President Russell M. Nelson has stated, the gathering “is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be ‘brought to the knowledge of the Lord’ [3 Nephi 20:13] without leaving their homelands.”1

As you live the gospel, you are gathering yourself to the Lord. As you do your part to gather others into the gospel, you are accomplishing the vital work of helping the Lord gather Israel.

Escaping Bondage and Unrighteousness

As we gather ourselves unto Christ by following His teachings, we experience liberty and freedom that only the gospel can provide—liberty to have personal revelation and freedom to become who Heavenly Father wants us to be. Unrighteous living can lead to bondage and limitations, both physical and spiritual.2 As we assist in gathering our friends and loved ones to the gospel, including by helping them to make and keep sacred covenants with God, we can help them find freedom from many types of bondage.

An opera I enjoy illustrates the principle of spiritual and physical bondage. In his youth Giuseppe Verdi was intrigued with the prophet Jeremiah from the Old Testament. In 1842, at the age of 28, he wrote the opera Nabucco, a reference to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who lived during Jeremiah’s time.

This opera addresses the conquest of Jerusalem and the captivity and bondage of the Jews, which came from unrighteous living (see Jeremiah 13:9–19). Psalm 137 is the inspiration for Verdi’s moving and inspiring “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves.” The heading of this psalm in our scriptures is very dramatic: “While in captivity, the Jews wept by the rivers of Babylon—Because of sorrow, they could not bear to sing the songs of Zion.”

God intended that men and women would be free to make choices between good and evil. When evil choices become the dominant characteristic of a culture or nation, there are serious consequences both in this life and the life to come. People can become enslaved or put themselves in bondage not only to harmful, addictive substances but also to harmful, addictive philosophies that detract from righteous living. We can see that happening in our day.

We should do everything within our power to avoid the sin and rebellion that lead to bondage.3 As we do, we qualify ourselves for inspiration as we assist the Lord in gathering His elect and in the literal gathering of Israel.

As you live righteously, you will not only escape bondage from the adversary, but you will also become an example of hope and light to others.

Let Your Light Shine

Are there any friends or loved ones in your life who are so full of sorrow that they cannot sing the songs of Zion, or feel the joy of the gospel?

Whether in your own home or with strangers, when it comes to sharing the gospel, you can be a shining light as you embrace and live the light of the gospel.4 And yet if people don’t know you love them, you won’t have the same impact. Therefore we must seek to always be filled with love for others. When you’re full of love for all of Heavenly Father’s children, everybody will see your light. This light can have far-reaching effects beyond what you may ever notice.

Just by being who you are and by living a righteous life, you can attract others who will notice you and the way you live. This will plant countless seeds that may come to bear much fruit in time.5 Long before you’re even old enough to serve a mission, you can assist with planting seeds, seeking the elect, and gathering them to Christ.

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Meeting the Savior

You can start by developing this love and light in your own home. This can be a long process, so please don’t feel discouraged by individual contentions or arguments within your family. Long-term respect requires long-term effort. Take the time to work on family relationships. You can start by showing respect and learning to avoid criticism.

In the home, criticism is a kind of poison that can destroy unity. If somebody makes a mistake, such as knocking a dish off the table, this doesn’t require repentance or criticism. Instead, gentle teaching is all that is needed. We must learn to be patient with each other, especially in our families. I think if a home can be the kind of place where there is no criticism, then love can flourish.

Gather in Safety

Once again, when we’re in bondage, our available actions become limited. The solution is to find freedom and light and love in the safety of the gospel. Bondage in sin can lead you to feel as if you can’t sing the songs of Zion. But repentance is available always. We can be gathered in the house of Israel and help others to gather in safety with us.

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Gathered in His Light

As you keep your focus on the gospel, on the Savior, and on the temple, you’re doing exactly what you need to. You can live anywhere in the world, even with small numbers of Church members, and still be very much a part of the Church and the kingdom and the gathering. You are never alone when you are in the house of Israel.

Notes

  1. Russell M. Nelson, “The Book of Mormon and the Gathering of Israel” (address given at the seminar for new mission presidents, June 26, 2013), 6, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

  2. See 2 Nephi 1:13, 23.

  3. The Lord, speaking in our day, said, “The whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin … because they come not unto me” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:49–50).

  4. See Matthew 5:16.

  5. See Alma 32, Matthew 13.