Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on real discipleship

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Some give of their time yet withhold themselves, being present without giving of their presence and going through the superficial motions of membership instead of the deep emotions of consecrated discipleship.

"Some try to get by with knowing only the headlines of the gospel, not really talking much of Christ or rejoicing in Christ and esteeming lightly His books of scripture which contain and explain His covenants (see 2 Ne. 25:26).

"Some are so proud they never learn of obedience and spiritual submissiveness. They will have very arthritic knees on the day when every knee shall bend. There will be no gallery then to play to; all will be participants!

"Maintaining Church membership on our own terms, therefore, is not true discipleship.

"Real disciples absorb the fiery darts of the adversary by holding aloft the quenching shield of faith with one hand, while holding to the iron rod with the other (see Eph. 6:16; 1 Ne. 15:24; D&C 27:17). There should be no mistaking; it will take both hands!"

- Neal A. Maxwell, "Overcome... Even as I also Overcame," General Conference April 1987; see also Ensign, May 1987, pp. 70-71
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Maxwell was beloved for his masterful expression of Gospel principles. But it wasn't just flowery talk; his perceptive messages often cut to the heart and challenged me to rise up. This is a good example. What does it mean to be a true disciple? There is a whole-heartedness involved that sometimes gets neglected. The phrase "deep emotions of consecrated discipleship" alone is profound. Too often we "go through the motions"—or even neglect the motions, as this challenging quote reminds us:

So "true discipleship" must be on the Lord's terms, and it must be whole-hearted. Elder Maxwell acknowledges that it's not easy, but gives one more great analogy to help us understand the level of commitment:

What a vivid image: a battle, when we have one hand engaged with a defensive shield, and the other clinging to the rod of safety! It takes both faith in Jesus Christ, and the action of of efforts to holding firmly to the Gospel, in order to survive.

I love reading the teachings of this beloved apostle and disciple of the Savior. They always urge me onward and upward!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)

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