Sharing the restored gospel with our neighbors
My family and I moved to a new community approximately one and a half years ago. The first thing that we did was to meet our neighbors and let them know that we would love to get to know them and help them when needed. We wanted them to know that we love to serve our neighbors.
My family and I know that the best example of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is to keep His commandments and to serve. In the scriptures Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40; see also Galatians 5:14).
We knew that our new neighbors probably would not contact us, so we decided to take the initiative to get to know them and to start a friendship. We knew it was our responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ. On Sundays they saw us leaving our home to go to the church together as a family. On occasions when I had assignments as an Area Seventy out of Puerto Rico, they would see my wife and children going to the church together. Our neighbors learned we would consistently go to the church every Sunday. Later when they asked us which church we visited, we told them that we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
We took the opportunity to invite our neighbors to a family home evening and asked the full-time missionaries to share the restored gospel. We gave them a Book of Mormon and invited them to read and ask God if the book contained the truth about God and His love for His children. Even though they have not accepted the message of the restoration, they know we care for them and want to be their friends.
By fulfilling our responsibility to share the gospel, we are following the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. It allows us to share the love of our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. If we love our neighbors, we must share the gospel with them. It is their decision to accept the restored gospel or not. However, as a family and as individuals, we must always set the example of being disciples of Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 18:9). Our example is our greatest testimony that we follow Jesus’ teachings and His commandments.
A few months ago, our neighbors asked us how we praise God during the current COVID-19 pandemic without going to the church. We told them that we have a living Prophet who receives ongoing revelation from God. Through revelation, approximately two years ago the Church implemented a “home-centered, Church-supported” approach to gospel living, learning and teaching for members around the world. This has helped prepare us for times like these when we are not able to attend church in our meetinghouses. We also explained that with my Bishop’s authorization, as a priesthood holder and I am able to bless and partake of the sacrament with my family at home on Sunday. What a blessing to belong to the restored Church!
God knows all things and especially what we do to serve
The term neighbor includes family members, people with whom we work, have fun or associate, members of the Church and even those who may not like us. If we do not love all these people, can we truly say that we love God? The Apostle John declared, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21). Therefore, loving God and loving our neighbor are inseparably connected.
The Lord states in Doctrine and Covenants 12:8, “And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care”. In Galatians 5:13 we find, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another”. The dictionary defines love to include the “unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another; an affection based on admiration, benevolence or common interest” (“Love.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/love. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020).
We can love our neighbor through charitable acts of service. These do not have to be very significant to be meaningful. Examples of loving our neighbors could be the simple act of caring for them, assisting them complete a project they are working on, sharing the gospel or inviting them to Church. During the COVID-19 pandemic we can invite them to participate in a virtual church activity or devotional. Other examples could be helping your mother and father clean the house, cut the grass, take the garbage out, etc. They will feel the love of God through your unconditional service.
When we give service, we need to remember that we do not look for any recognition, reward or payment. Our service is between God, our neighbor and ourselves. “That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:4). There is no need to tell everybody. God knows all the good things that you do, and He will bless you for your service.
The perfect example of service
Jesus Christ set the perfect example of service for us. During the pre-mortal life He offered Himself to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He was already a God, the beloved Son of our Heavenly Father and yet because of His love for each one of us, He was willing to come to Earth, to be mocked, scorned and suffer in unimaginable ways to provide us with an “infinite atonement” and to be that “great and last sacrifice” which was needed for Him to “bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name”, thereby ransoming men from the spiritual and physical death caused by the fall of Adam and their own sins (see Alma 34:13-15 and Topical Guide: “Jesus Christ, Atonement through”).
How grateful I am for Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice. I am eternally indebted to Him. During His mortal life, He came to serve and not to be served. Everything He did was in service to His neighbors (us).
Following his death and resurrection, He was teaching a group of disciples in the Americas and asked, “…what manner of men ought ye to be?”. Then in the same breath He gave this answer: “…even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27). If we are to follow Him, and walk in His footsteps, we must live after the pattern He set. For that reason, it is very important to always ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”. That will help us to be more courageous and act upon the answer. We should always study our master’s teachings and devote ourselves to following His example.
We must be vigilant and wary of the adversary’s traps
We must be careful how we treat our neighbors. There is a story in the Book of Mormon that teaches us an important lesson regarding this matter. Following Jesus Christ’s resurrection in Jerusalem, He appeared to the Nephites in the Americas. After teaching them about baptism, He warned against anger and contention saying, “…and there shall be no disputations among you... For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Nephi 11:22, 29). We learn from this scripture that having bad feelings, disputations or contentions with anyone takes us off the covenant path leading to God and leads us towards Satan, who is our common adversary. If you find yourself in that situation, I exhort you to repent and to follow Christ, for it is in this life that we should repent of our sins (see D&C 42:28; Alma 34:33-35).
I know that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they possess the pure love of Christ, for as He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). I testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the reality of His mission to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He loves us unconditionally. I testify of these things in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.