Sunday, May 2, 2021

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on latter-day discipleship

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (1940- ) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
[After describing an incident in which fans at a basketball game subjected a player on the opposing team to "vitriolic abuse", Elder Holland commented:] 
"The day after the game, when there was some public reckoning and a call to repentance over the incident, one young man said, in effect: 'Listen. We are talking about basketball here, not Sunday School. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. We pay good money to see these games. We can act the way we want. We check our religion at the door.' 
"'We check our religion at the door'? Lesson number one for the establishment of Zion in the 21st century: You never check your religion at the door. 
"That kind of discipleship cannot be—it is not discipleship at all. As the prophet Alma taught, we are 'to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in' (Mosiah 18:9)—not just some of the time, in a few places, or when our team has a big lead. 
"Whatever the situation or provocation or problem, no true disciple of Christ can check his or her religion at the door." 
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Israel, Israel, God Is Calling," CES devotional delivered at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, on September 9, 2012.  See also Ensign, June 2014, pp. 30-37; click here to read the full talk
This is a grand message, and it applies to much more than public athletic competitions and other similar gatherings. Saints and disciples don't "put on" and "put off" their appropriate behavior. It's not a set of clothes; it's part of the very nature of who they are. It's the heart; it's the devotion and commitment that directs every word, every step.

Elder Holland used the opportunity of speaking to a fireside for young adults to direct this rebuke, related to how some fans behave when caught up in the emotion of a sports competition:

I can hear Elder Holland's voice speaking these words, in "righteous indignation." You have to wonder how that "young man" who made the thoughtless comment felt after hearing or reading this comment - I hope his heart was pricked. Each of us should consider if there are ever times when we symbolically "check our religion" and behave differently than we should.

Elder Holland is, in my mind, a prime example of a true disciple.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
Jan 31, 2015

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