This topic has come up several times the past couple of weeks. Naturally because of that it has been on my mind a little more.
Last Sunday there was a lesson on Elder Bednar's talk from October 2012 General Conference "Converted Unto The Lord".
And then in Institute Wednesday, that talk was the topic, and then this Sunday the lesson from the Lorenzo Snow book was titled "Lifelong Conversion: Continuing to Advance in the Principles of Truth".
Something that struck a cord with me is that both Elder Bednar and President Snow indicated that conversion is indicated by what a person does.
"Continuing conversion is constant devotion to the revealed truth we have received—with a heart that is willing and for righteous reasons. Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion"
"So in regard to us, respecting the things which we are undertaking. If we expect to improve, to advance in the work immediately before us, and finally to obtain possession of those gifts and glories, coming up to that condition of exaltation we anticipate, we must take thought and reflect, we must exert ourselves, and that too to the utmost of our ability."
Isn't this the principle of "Never Suppress a Generous Thought"?
What I mean is, when one is converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ they have to understand what that is. The Gospel of Jesus Christ includes that the Savior came to Earth, suffered for all, and rose again. But it also includes a little more than that. You see, the Gospel, this "good news" is about a covenant relationship. The good news is more than the fact that someone loves us in spite of us not deserving it, but also that we can change and become something different than we are. And honestly, changing and becoming different is the only way to share the good news. We have to change enough to allow goodness to work through us to touch someone else. Otherwise if we don't, well we can't produce goodness in and of ourselves. That isn't possible. And because we can't that means that we can't touch someone for good, or even share the good news.
But I digress. When someone understands that the Gospel, the good news, has two parts, what He does and what I do, that's when more than a superficial smattering of the good news can be made manifest.
Christ's own words illustrate what the Gospel is and what it is all about.
"13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you -- that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil --
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;
22 Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day" (3 Nephi 27:13-22).
Conversion has to do with what we do with our understanding/testimony/knowledge about Christ's role and our own role. In my personal experience many people I have encountered understand the Savior's role a little easier than they understand their own. His grace is a completely free gift. But that doesn't mean we don't have to work. We just don't have to work for that.
Because conversion is related to acting we must understand our role in the good news as well. Christ was plain; our role is to have faith, repent, be baptized and then sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and be faithful until the end.
Christ simplified our side of things further when he instructed Hyrum Smith in D&C 11:20, "Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength".
And it kind of makes sense as to why it was simplified to simply "keep my commandments". If we do that, then we will be having faith, repenting of sin (what is sin? Is it anything that draws us away from God? Is it anything that God wouldn't think or do?) and allowing the Holy Ghost to sanctify us.
Christ further simplified our part to some hard hearted Pharisees who asked what the most important commandment was.
" 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)
1. Love God
2. Love others
And of course if we love God with ALL our heart, soul, and mind we will also be loving others and keeping the second commandment.
In essence the summation of our part in the gospel and what Christ said to Hyrum, is to love God with our everything. That doesn't mean to love God when it is easy, or convenient, or most beneficial to me. It doesn't mean I love God when I remember, when I feel like it, or when it is what I want to do. By extension, it doesn't mean to love his children when convenient, easy, beneficial to me, when I feel like it, or only when I remember. It means to love Him with everything, it means to love them with everything. Obviously this isn't an overnight kind of thing but a line upon line kind of process. And like all gospel processes it starts out with a desire, with wanting to Him and to love people with ALL your heart, soul, might, strength, and might.
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40)"
Which is why conversion is about never suppressing a generous thought.