ON STANDING AS A WITNESS

A Message for The Common Bond, May 2005

OUR WARD RELIEF SOCIETY'S MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
STERLING PARK WARD
ASHBURN, VA STAKE

By

D. Calvin Andrus
acadac@aol.com

24 April 2005


Do any of us feel tension in any of our relationships? Yes, most of us have at least one relationship filled with tension. Would we like to minimize the tension in the relationship? Of course we would. Let us consider how living one of the promises we made at baptism would help our relationships.

At baptism we promised we would ". . . stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places . . ." (Mosiah 18:9) I think the choice of the verb "to stand" is important. The verb was not to preach, or to lecture, or to cajole, or to debate. Our promise was not a promise to speak, but a promise to be. This is a promise to walk the walk, not talk the talk. To stand as a witness of God means several closely related things:

Can a person be a witness in the absence of other people? Clearly not. In order for us to be a witness, others must observe our person, our life, our behavior AND come to the conclusion that God is real. That is, other people will become convinced of God because they see how we live our lives.

We commonly think that our promise to be a witness is directed toward unbelievers. We believe our duty is to be a witness to people outside our church. This focus, however, sets the bar pretty low. Because people outside the church, generally speaking, do not know us intimately, we can put up a pretty good mask of our true behavior. A more appropriate setting of the bar would be for our focus to be on those who know us best--our families and close friends.

What I am suggesting is that we stand as a witness of God in our closest relationships--at all times, and in all things, and in all places. When we say all times, I think we are saying 24 by 7 by 365. This applies to not only when we are happy, but also when we are angry or otherwise not feeling well. When we say all things, I think we are saying all aspects our relationships. This applies to finances, raising children, cleaning, vacationing, and helping each other. When we say in all places, I think this refers to any place we interact with our loved ones. This applies to the bedroom, the kitchen, the phone, the car, and the yard.

Ok, let's do a couple of mind experiments. Let's suppose you and your siblings are planning a celebration for your parents. After the celebration is over, would your siblings say that they are more or less likely to believe in God because of the way you behaved? Now let's suppose you need to discipline one of your children. Are they more or less likely to believe in God after you administer the discipline? Finally, think of the last time you and your spouse disagreed over financial or intimacy issues. Would your spouse come away from the experience impressed with how Celestial-like your behavior was?

I am acquainted with some members of our ward who will not experience any guilt as they ponder these experiments. Most of us, however, will recognize we have some work to do to improve our ability to stand as a witness of God in our closest relationships--the relationships that are most important to us. To the extent we stand as witnesses of God in our closest relationships--at all times, in all things, and in all places--the relationships will improve commensurately. To this I bear my witness.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


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