The words “come unto Christ” are an invitation. It is the most important invitation you could ever offer to another person. It is the most important invitation anyone could accept. From the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel in this dispensation, it has been the charge given by Jesus Christ to His representatives. Their charge has been “to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.”1
Every member of the Church, upon accepting the baptismal covenant, becomes a disciple who has promised to stand as a witness of Jesus Christ at all times in any place he or she may be in.2 The purpose of our witness is to invite people to come unto Him.
All of us should be intensely interested in learning how to issue that invitation effectively. We know from experience that some will not respond. Only a few responded when the Savior Himself offered this invitation during His mortal ministry. But great was His joy in those who recognized His voice. And great has been our joy when those we have invited have come unto Him.
It is worthwhile to ponder over those instances in our own lives when people have responded. Personally, I have seen a pattern when people have accepted that invitation. In each case the Holy Ghost has manifested at least three truths to them. The experiences have not always come in the sequence in which I will list them, but they all come to the hearts of those who truly come unto Christ.
First, they come to feel that the only way they can have the happiness they want most in this life and in the world to come is through Jesus Christ. They come to believe these words from the Book of Mormon: “Behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.”3
That assurance is not easy to feel in a world in which many voices say that there is no God, that there is no sin, and that happiness is found in pleasure. But our voices can be more powerful if we can get the gift of bearing a sure witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world. That witness will come most powerfully out of your own experiences with the Atonement of Jesus Christ working in your life. If you reflect often on how His Atonement has changed you and if you give thanks often, you will find that your witness of Him gains power to touch the hearts of others. When those you invite out of your own testimony feel that witness, they will come to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. And that acceptance, when it comes, will warm their hearts and yours.
Second, those I know who have truly come unto Him make covenants to obey and to follow Him. It may begin by keeping simple commitments, such as reading the Book of Mormon or going to a sacrament meeting. It must come out of their faith that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior. When they keep the commitment out of that faith, they feel something. They may not be able to identify the feeling in words, but they feel better. Obedience, even in small things, brings that blessing from God. And in time they begin to feel a repentant heart and with it a desire to make the covenant of baptism, to take the Savior’s name upon them, and to be cleansed from sin.
People come to make that crucial choice for many reasons. At first one man we taught could not see the need to be baptized. After all, he had tried to be good all his life. He had committed no serious sin. He had been baptized as a child in another church. But then two things came to his mind. One was that the Savior was baptized out of obedience, having never sinned. The other is that he wanted to make the commitment to the Savior through the authority of the true priesthood, just as the Savior went to John to be baptized.
Another young man we taught chose to be baptized out of a heart broken by the sorrow he felt for his sins. As he came up out of the waters of baptism, he threw his arms around my neck, tears streaming down his cheeks, and said in my ear, “I’m clean. I’m clean.”
Their choices to make the covenant of baptism sprang from a common faith. They knew that if they would keep a covenant to obey the Savior’s commandments, He would keep His covenant with them to lead them toward eternal life. They were ready to come unto Him that they might be changed and led by Him and, in time, become like Him.
That leads to the third thing I have seen in the lives of those who have truly come unto Him. They strive to become like Him. They begin to try to do unto others as they know He would do. You and I have seen that in faithful people soon after their baptism and receiving of the Holy Ghost. Once, I went with my missionary companion to visit a family we had taught and baptized just a few weeks previously. The parents took us down into their basement to show us a room. It had been the bedroom of one of their two daughters. But she had now moved in with her sister. The bedroom she vacated was filled with everything the family would need in an emergency.
We had not taught them anything about emergency preparedness. When we asked why they had done something so difficult so quickly, the reply was that they had read in a Church magazine that the Lord would like families to be prepared to take care of themselves and others. They said, “Isn’t that what Latter-day Saints do?”
That simple faith extended to everything they felt the Savior would have them do. And their desire to follow Him lasted. And it changed them. They had always been kind, trying to help others. But that ability to show charity grew. And that has been the pattern in all those I have known who continued to come unto Him over a lifetime.
We sometimes speak of retaining members as if we held them in. We can and we must be a friend to those who have made the choice to come unto Him. They can become discouraged when trials come, as trials always do. Yet we must remember that the best and surest friends they have are the Savior and His Father, who is also their Father. Heavenly Father and the Savior will send them the Holy Ghost to comfort them and confirm their faith if they are humbly obedient. So, for example, when going visiting teaching or home teaching with a new member, if you give him or her the chance to pray or to teach or to make the appointment, you may give him or her more strength than just your expressions of love. It will bring down the powers of heaven. And that will lift them through trials and protect them from pride when blessings begin to come to them, as blessings will.
Another wonderful thing will happen. When you give your heart to inviting people to come unto Christ, your heart will be changed. You will be doing His work for Him. You will find that He keeps His promise to be one with you in your service. You will come to know Him. And in time you will come to be like Him and “be perfected in him.”4 By helping others come unto Him, you will find that you have come unto Him yourself. If you want to be near Him, to feel His peace, you can do it best in His service.
He is the one who said:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”5
I testify that He will keep that promise to those we invite for Him. And He keeps that promise to those who serve Him by doing the inviting.