By Ben Smith, Australia Mission Centre President
The recent news of tragedy and trial in our society has me thinking constantly about the role we play in the world through our discipleship journey. Violence is perpetrated all too often by those who claim to be messengers or servants of The Way, and yet it is clear to others of us that those actions are an obvious mutation or a misinterpretation of Jesus’ teachings.
Our thoughts and prayers are simply not enough in these times. If we are to be the hands and feet of Christ in our world, we must join together to be at the forefront of work to bring justice to victims of these abuses, but further, we are called as a people to bring change to unjust systems which perpetuate more of the same. I believe we’re in the midst of a revolution, where our children are finding their voice and providing a rebuttal in a way we should be proud.
Doctrine and Covenants 163:3c says “There are subtle, yet powerful, influences in the world, some even claiming to represent Christ, that seek to divide people and nations to accomplish their destructive aims. That which seeks to harden one human heart against another by constructing walls of fear and prejudice is not of God. Be especially alert to these influences, lest they divide you or divert you from the mission to which you are called.”
We are called to exemplify the way of Jesus in the world, and through our principles and actions we will guide our communities to understand the Spirit of God in new ways. Imagine if perpetrators of child sexual abuse were fully aware of the love God has for them and were surrounded by a loving and supportive community prior to committing those crimes? Or if those who violently take the physical life away from another were aware of the joy that comes from unity in diversity? Or those who continue to plunder the earth of resources for personal gain had a deep conviction of the sacredness of creation?
Our call is not to simply build a church, our call is to share with the world a new way of being – a way that will change the world and build a peaceable kingdom. I often get asked ‘how do we grow the church?’, and I would love it if that question shifted to ‘how do we be the church?’ – because I believe if we truly become who we are called to be, we will experience an expanding presence of disciples in our community. Now is that time.