Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Elder Dale G. Renlund on the faithful disciple's walk in life

Elder Dale G. Renlund (born November 13, 1952) served in the First Quorum of Seventy starting in 2009, until his call to the Quorum of Twelve in October 2015.
"[Former South African president Nelson] Mandela frequently deflected accolades by saying, 'I’m no saint—that is, unless you think a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.'
"This statement—'a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying'—should reassure and encourage members of the Church. Although we are referred to as 'Latter-day Saints,' we sometimes flinch at this reference. The term Saints is commonly used to designate those who have achieved an elevated state of holiness or even perfection. And we know perfectly well that we are not perfect.
"Our theology does teach us, though, that we may be perfected by repeatedly and iteratively 'relying wholly upon' the doctrine of Christ: exercising faith in Him, repenting, partaking of the sacrament to renew the covenants and blessings of baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost as a constant companion to a greater degree. As we do so, we become more like Christ and are able to endure to the end, with all that that entails. In less formal terms, God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than about who we once were. He cares that we keep on trying."
- Dale G. Renlund, "Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying," Ensign, May 2015, pp. 57-58
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

A lot hinges how we interpret the word "saint." Mandela's definition is perfect; it's just someone who keeps on trying. It's a disciple who is firmly on the path and doing his or her best to progress. That progress comes through the Master whom we follow:
And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. (2 Nephi 31:19, emphasis added.)

I love the phrase "relying wholly upon" that Elder Renlund quotes. It requires a total and unrestrained commitment to Him in order to walk the path; partial or occasional reliance won't do. Elder Renlund then elaborates:

It's a powerful reminder that God is much more concerned with our present state and direction, than He is about where we came from. We should never forget that!

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