25990_000_012A coworker had some bad information about Latter-day Saints. How could I help him understand we really are Christians?
During my second year of college, I worked at the university library as a student assistant. One day in December I was assigned to work with another student assistant. I had never met him before, so as we worked I tried to strike up a conversation. We talked about school, work, and our families.
Later in the afternoon he started to sing songs that mentioned God. I asked him about his religion. I hoped he would ask me the same thing so I could talk to him about the Church, and he did. I was so excited, because this was a great missionary opportunity. With a big smile, I told him I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He looked surprised and, in a not-very-pleasant tone of voice, replied, “The Mormons? You’re a Mormon? Those people don’t believe in Jesus Christ.”
His words were hard for me to hear. Whatever I was expecting, it certainly wasn’t to hear that I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. I had heard stories like this, but now it was happening to me. What should I say? How could I respond to such a remark? The only thing that came to mind was, “But it’s the Church of Jesus Christ!”
I knew I had to repeat in my mind the Young Women motto—“Stand for Truth and Righteousness”—and put it into action. But how?
I proceeded to tell the other assistant that our church is the Church of Jesus Christ, that we believed in Him as our Savior, and that I understood the love He has for God’s children. I expressed from the depths of my soul that I believed in Jesus Christ, that I was a member of His Church, and that I had been taught to love Him and to follow His example.
My coworker did not want to listen anymore. He responded reproachfully to the things I said even while I kept trying to explain. He also talked about the Book of Mormon in the same manner as he had spoken about the Church. I could tell he didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to listen to what he was saying either because he was trying to contend with me. I knew I shouldn’t go on explaining, so I bore my testimony. I told him that I knew everything I was saying was true. I could feel it in my heart.
As I left the library, I wondered how anyone could possibly talk about the Church that way. I thought about what I had felt as I testified to him and wondered if I should have allowed him to express himself the way he did. I felt anger and fear and thought of things I could have said. I felt frustrated and doubted my own level of spirituality because he had not changed his mind. Had I failed?
On the way home, I prayed. I wanted to get rid of my negative thoughts. I wanted to feel sure of what I had been taught my whole life, and I wanted to feel that Heavenly Father was pleased with me for what I had done. Prayer was the best tool I had. Prayer and the Holy Ghost had helped me know what to say and how to testify to my coworker, and they also helped me to know that my Heavenly Father was pleased with me.
This experience helped me to know with a greater certainty that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ and that, just as He was persecuted, so is His Church. I learned the importance of having a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church.
I think that every young member of the Church should seek to gain a firm testimony so that he or she can testify to others, regardless of whether we are successful in changing someone’s mind. When we bear our testimonies, our testimonies will, in turn, be strengthened, and we can at least plant a seed in the hearts of others. Even if they don’t show interest at the moment, they can know more about what we believe.
How to Respond
Remember the Lord has said, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men” (D&C 11:21).
After you have studied and know the basic doctrines of the Church concerning the Savior, here are a few suggestions on how you can explain to others that you belong to a Christian church.
Explain that the full name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other names are just nicknames.
Tell them that Church members believe in the Bible and show them passages in the Book of Mormon that testify of Jesus Christ.
Explain the Restoration of the gospel—that Joseph Smith was a great prophet and that he restored Christ’s Church to the earth.
Take them to a local visitors’ center, if possible. Have them view the paintings and statues of the Savior and talk to the missionaries.
Invite them to church with you so they can see for themselves that Church members believe in the Savior.
Direct them to the “Beliefs and Doctrines” link under “Frequently Asked Questions” at www.mormon.org for a great explanation of the Church’s basic doctrines.
If they are not receptive to what you are saying, don’t argue. Bear your testimony of the Savior, and tell them what you know to be true.
Don’t feel rejected if people do not believe your testimony. Remember, the things you know are still true and this is God’s true Church. Let the way you live your life testify that you are Christian.
What Is a Christian?
“Some people erroneously believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members are not Christian. We have difficulty understanding why anyone could accept and promote an idea that is so far from the truth. …
“A dictionary defines a Christian as ‘one who professes belief in Jesus as the Christ or follows the religion based on [the life and teachings of Jesus],’ and ‘one who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.’ Thus two characteristics identify Christians: (1) they profess belief in a Savior, and (2) they act in harmony with the Savior’s teachings. Faithful members of the Church, called Saints or Latter-day Saints, qualify clearly in both characteristics. In our belief and our action, we demonstrate that ‘Jesus Christ himself [is] the chief corner stone’ [Eph. 2:20] of our faith.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Christians in Belief and Action,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 70.
Why Don’t We Use Crosses?
President Gordon B. Hinckley was once asked by a minister why Latter-day Saints do not wear crosses or display them in their buildings.
President Hinckley said to him: “‘I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian colleagues who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ.’
“[The minister] then asked: ‘If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?’
“I replied that the lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Symbol of our Faith,” Liahona, Apr. 2005, 2; see “The Symbol of Christ,” New Era, Apr. 1990, 4.
For more on this subject, see these articles in English in the Gospel Library at www.lds.org: Richard C. Edgley,