Wednesday, December 1, 2021

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the treasured blessing of obedience

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (born November 6, 1940) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He served as second counselor in the First Presidency from 2008 to 2018.
"As we increase in faith, we also must increase in faithfulness....
"You and I may speak most eloquently of spiritual things. We may impress people with our keen intellectual interpretation of religious topics. We may rhapsodize about religion and 'dream of [our] mansion above' (Hymns, no. 223). But if our faith does not change the way we live—if our beliefs do not influence our daily decisions—our religion is vain, and our faith, if not dead, is certainly not well and is in danger of eventually flatlining. (See James 2:26.)
"Obedience is the lifeblood of faith. It is by obedience that we gather light into our souls.
"But sometimes I think we misunderstand obedience. We may see obedience as an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. Or we may pound the metaphorical hammer of obedience against the iron anvil of the commandments in an effort to shape those we love, through constant heating and repeated battering, into holier, heavenly matter.
"No doubt about it, there are times when we need a stern call to repentance. Certainly, there are some who may be reached only in this manner.
"But perhaps there is a different metaphor that can explain why we obey the commandments of God. Maybe obedience is not so much the process of bending, twisting, and pounding our souls into something we are not. Instead, it is the process by which we discover what we truly are made of....
"The fundamental divinity of our nature remains. And the moment we choose to incline our hearts to our beloved Savior and set foot upon the path of discipleship, something miraculous happens. The love of God fills our hearts, the light of truth fills our minds, we start to lose the desire to sin, and we do not want to walk any longer in darkness. (See John 8:12.)
"We come to see obedience not as a punishment but as a liberating path to our divine destiny. And gradually, the corruption, dust, and limitations of this earth begin to fall away. Eventually, the priceless, eternal spirit of the heavenly being within us is revealed, and a radiance of goodness becomes our nature."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home," General Conference, April 2016, Sunday morning session
Click here to read the full talk

There is a profound difference between "faith" and "faithfulness." But to me, it's hard to understand that one could truly possess faith in Jesus Christ but not have a deep commitment to faithfulness in following the principles He taught. President Uchtdorf warns about outward signs of faith, including eloquence and articulateness in religious topics, in a life that has not shown evidence in how its conducted, and in the way daily decisions are made. If faith is alive and vibrant, there will be correlation in the principle of obedience.

This is a beautiful and profound statement: "Obedience is the lifeblood of faith. It is by obedience that we gather light into our souls." So it is in obedience that faith finds its "lifeblood" or the force of existence and thriving; and it is obedience that brings greater light and power to a soul.

President Uchtdorf clarifies that how we think about obedience can make a great difference. We can't just view it as an imposed burden, as constricting burdens to oppress our journey, as a tedious process of forcing us into the proper form. Rather, it's a wonderful process of self-discovery as we learn about our true natures and uncover the blessedness of a life aligned with God.

I love the thought that "the moment we choose to incline our hearts to our beloved Savior" and choose the path of discipleship, "something miraculous happens." It doesn't require a long and arduous process to see things change; it happens in the moment that we truly commit to Him. Then we feel the change and the blessing as His love and His light come into our lives in wonderful ways. Soon "a radiance of goodness becomes our nature." What a beautiful promise!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
April 10, 2016

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