To all who wish to understand who we are as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I would like to offer a starting point defined by these three words: We seek Christ.
We seek to learn of Him. To follow Him. To become more like Him.
Every day throughout the year, we seek Him. But especially at this time of the year—Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of our beloved Savior—our hearts are ever more inclined to Him.
As part of our preparations for celebrating Christmas, let us consider how those who lived two millennia ago were ready to welcome the arrival of the Savior.
We don’t know much about the shepherds, only that they were “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”1 The shepherds were more than likely quite ordinary people, like many commendable souls who go about their days earning a living.
They could represent people who, at one time, may not have been actively seeking the Christ, but their hearts changed when the heavens opened and Christ was proclaimed to them.
These are they who, after hearing the voice of heavenly messengers, immediately went to Bethlehem wanting to see.2
The Wise Men were academics who had been studying the advent of the Messiah, the Son of God. Through their learning, they identified the signs that pointed to His birth. When they identified them, they left their homes and traveled to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?”3
Their knowledge of the Christ did not remain solely academic. Once they saw the signs of His birth, they acted. They set out to find the Christ.
The Wise Men could represent those who seek the Christ through learning and academic study. Their devotion to truth eventually leads them to find the Christ and worship Him as the King of kings, the Savior of mankind.4
Simeon and Anna could represent those who seek Christ through the Spirit. These marvelous souls were devoutly religious and, through fasting and prayer and by leading lives of devotion and obedience, waited eagerly to see the day of the coming of the Son of God.
Through fidelity, humility, and faith, they patiently watched for the coming of the Savior.
Eventually, their faithfulness was rewarded as Mary and Joseph presented to them the baby who would one day take upon Himself the sins of mankind.5
The touching story of how believers in the New World watched for the signs of the birth of the Savior is found in the Book of Mormon.
You remember that those who had faith in Christ were ridiculed and persecuted. The sophisticates of that day accused believers of hanging on to foolish superstitions. In fact, the nonbelievers were so vocal in their ridicule that they made “a great uproar” in the land (3 Nephi 1:7). They scoffed at those who believed that the Savior would be born.
Their anger and rage grew so great that they became obsessed with silencing once and for all those who believed in the Savior. The Book of Mormon records the dramatic resolution.6
The believers who lived at this time could represent those who seek the Christ even when others laugh, mock, and taunt. They seek Christ even when others attempt to caricature them as unrefined, unsophisticated, or gullible.
But the contempt of others does not discourage true believers from seeking Christ.
Throughout the year, and perhaps especially at this Christmas season, it would benefit us to once again ask the question “How am I seeking Christ?”
During a difficult period of his life, the great King David wrote, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee.”7
Perhaps this attitude of seeking God was one of the reasons David was described as a man after God’s own heart.8
During this Christmas season and throughout the entire year, may we seek with our hearts and souls our beloved Savior, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One of Israel. For this desire, in large part, defines not only who we are as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but even more who we really are as Christ’s disciples.