Thursday, October 18, 2018

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on having the gospel as our defining focus

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (born January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"To persevere firm and steadfast in the faith of Christ requires that the gospel of Jesus Christ penetrate one’s heart and soul, meaning that the gospel becomes not just one of many influences in a person’s life but the defining focus of his or her life and character....
"Most of us find ourselves at this moment on a continuum between a socially motivated participation in gospel rituals on the one hand and a fully developed, Christlike commitment to the will of God on the other. Somewhere along that continuum, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ enters into our heart and takes possession of our soul. It may not happen in an instant, but we should all be moving toward that blessed state.
"It is challenging but vital to remain firm and steadfast when we find ourselves being refined 'in the furnace of affliction' (1 Nephi 20:10; see also Isaiah 48:10), something that comes soon or late to all of us in mortality. Without God, these dark experiences tend to despondency, despair, and even bitterness. With God, comfort replaces pain, peace replaces turmoil, and hope replaces sorrow. Remaining firm in the faith of Christ will bring His sustaining grace and support. He will convert trial into blessing and, in Isaiah’s words, 'give … beauty for ashes' (Isaiah 61:3)."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "Firm and Steadfast in the Faith of Christ," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was one of several talks from the recent conference that taught about the importance of focusing our efforts and attention on Jesus Christ, our Savior. Elder Christofferson explained powerfully the difference between having the gospel as one of many influences in our life, versus having it be the "defining focus" of all we do as it penetrates our very heart and soul. I felt the truth of his warning about the "continuum" of conversion that we are on:

Clearly, many of us are on that "socially motivated participation" end of the spectrum. It's interesting for each of us to honestly and seriously consider where we might be along that path towards a "fully developed, Christlike commitment to the will of God." That's what Elder Quentin L. Cook referred to as a "deep and lasting conversion"; it happens when the gospel "takes possession of our soul."

The blessings from this whole-souled conversion become apparent to us when we take our turn "in the furnace of affliction." The one who is truly converted will find comfort, peace, and hope, and feel God's "sustaining grace and support." Those are the critical times in life when our previous preparation is so crucial to our survival. How important for us to be moving steadily towards that state of whole-hearted conversion!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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