Viewpoint: Do We Bear “the Mark” of a Disciple of Christ?

Contributed By the Church News

  • 22 May 2016

Attaining discipleship is a lifelong endeavor that blesses others and leads one back to Heavenly Father.

Article Highlights

  • All who are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost have covenanted to become Christ's disciples.
  • A person’s mark of discipleship is not realized by his or her trials—but by how such trials are endured.
  • We become disciples of Christ by emulating the Master.

President Thomas S. Monson often has spoken of his boyhood years, noting that sometimes people made social distinctions about being from the “east side” or the “west side” of the railroad tracks in Salt Lake City. Then, with a smile, he added, “We lived between the tracks.”

During the Great Depression, thousands of men in search of work “rode the rails” throughout the United States. Some of those passing through Salt Lake City hopped off the train and made their way to a certain house to ask if there was any work they could do in exchange for something to eat.

Gladys Condie Monson never turned anyone away. She shared with the men whatever food she had prepared for her own family. If she had made sandwiches for lunch for her family, that’s what she gave the men. If the family’s meal included some kind of meat and vegetables, that’s the meal she served to those who knocked at her kitchen door.

In some of his conference addresses, other talks, and interviews, President Monson said that he had wondered how the men knew they could get food at his house. Understanding dawned when he was getting ready to repaint the picket fence. His mother told him to leave a particular slat as it was. Someone had marked that slat with a symbol that communicated to others that the people in the house on that property would share their food with those who were hungry.

How are we “marked” by others? Are we counted among Christ’s followers—His disciples? Do our actions at school, in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, and in our homes mark us as true followers of Christ?

All who are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost have covenanted to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ and become His disciples.

“Making the covenant to be a disciple of Christ is the beginning of a lifelong process, and the path is not always easy,” taught Elder Daniel L. Johnson, General Authority Seventy, in his October 2012 general conference address. “As we repent of our sins and strive to do what He would have us do and serve our fellowmen as He would serve them, we will inevitably become more like Him. Becoming like Him and being one with Him is the ultimate goal and objective—and essentially the very definition of true discipleship” (“Becoming a True Disciple”).

Realizing the sacred mark of a disciple is no easy task in today’s world. There are daily obstacles and adversity. Our struggles and trials, said Elder Johnson, are one of the primary purposes of mortality.

As taught in Abraham 3:25: “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” Even the most faithful disciple will know tough times.

“Mostly, we picture trials as the loss of a crop or a job; the death of a loved one; illness; physical, mental, or emotional incapacitation; poverty; or loss of friends,” said Elder Johnson. “However, even the attainment of seemingly worthwhile objectives can bring their own dangers of unhelpful pride, where we aspire more to the honors of men than the approbation of heaven. These may include worldly popularity, public recognition, physical prowess, artistic or athletic talent, prosperity, and riches.”

A person’s mark of discipleship is not realized by his or her trials—but by how such trials are endured.

Elder Johnson’s young grandson Benjamin offered this thoughtful definition of discipleship: “Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means being an example. It means being a missionary and preparing to be a missionary. It means to serve others. It means you read the scriptures and say your prayers. It means you keep the Sabbath day holy. It means you listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It means going to church and going to the temple.”

In his October 2006 general conference remarks, President James E. Faust of the First Presidency declared that one of the greatest blessings of both mortality and eternity is being counted as one of Christ’s devoted disciples.

We become disciples of Christ by emulating the Master. President Faust identified five Christlike characteristics one can follow to realize the mark of a disciple.

1. Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).

“We can all do something good every day—for a family member, a friend, or even a stranger—if we will look for those opportunities.”

2. Jesus was the Good Shepherd who watched over His sheep and had concern for those that were lost.

“We can seek out the lonely or those who are less active and befriend them.”

3. Jesus had compassion.

“We too can have compassion. We are reminded in the Book of Mormon that we are ‘to mourn with those that mourn’ (Mosiah 18:9).”

4. Jesus bore witness of His divine mission and of His Father’s great work.

“We can all ‘stand as witnesses of God at all times’ (Mosiah 18:9).”

5. Jesus invited “the little children to come unto [Him]” (Mark 10:14).

“Our children need our attention and love as well as our care.”

Attaining the mark of discipleship, President Faust added, brings purpose to life as one walks the path leading back to a loving Heavenly Father.

“Discipleship brings us comfort in times of sorrow, peace of conscience, and joy in service—all of which help us to be more like Jesus.”