Monday, January 3, 2022

President Howard W. Hunter on the gospel of belief and action

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President for only nine months, from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"The greatest search of our time is the search for personal identity and for human dignity. Each of us wants life to be worthwhile and to have real meaning—a personal meaning—in the living we do from day to day. There is a search being made by people everywhere, a search as important as life itself for self-respect, for self-fulfillment, and for emotional maturity....
The friends we choose, the choices we make, and what we do about these choices are the determining guide lines that form and mold our lives; but choices alone are not enough. The best goals, the best of friends, and the best of opportunities are all meaningless unless they are translated into reality through our daily actions.
"Belief must be realized in personal achievement. Real Christians must understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not just a gospel of belief; it is a plan of action. His gospel is a gospel of imperatives, and the very nature of its substance is a call to action. He did not say 'observe' my gospel; he said 'live' it! He did not say, 'Note its beautiful structure and imagery'; he said, 'Go, do, see, feel, give, believe!' The gospel of Jesus Christ is full of imperatives, words that call for personal commitment and action—obligatory, binding, compulsory."
- Howard W. Hunter, Conference Report, April 1967, pp. 115-118; Improvement Era June 1967 p. 101
Click here to read the full talk

As the years go by and we encounter transitions and changes in our lives, we often find ourselves pondering the questions President Hunter mentions here: Is my life worthwhile? Does it have "real meaning"? What are the things that contribute to "self-respect" and "self-fulfillment" in this life? Those are grand questions.

The quote acknowledges that things like friends and choices are crucially formative. We can have wonderful friends, excellent opportunities, and inspiring goals; but they are all meaningless unless they result in a better reality filled with daily actions.  Christ's message was one of action; it is filled with imperatives, urging us to deeds of worship and goodness.

I aspire to be a "read Christian." I hope to heed the "call to action" in my life!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
January 3, 2016

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