Editor's note: “Resources to follow Him” curates study resources, teachings, and thoughts to deepen your study of this week's Come, Follow Me.
It was a sunny March afternoon and there was just enough time to visit the Newport Beach California Temple before my return trip home. I had flown out to the area for a work conference, and after many lectures and workshops, I needed some spiritual upliftment. After my Uber arrived, I chatted with my driver who told me he was from the Philippines. I mentioned that my brother had served a mission there, and the driver quickly made the connection.
“Oh, the Mormons!” he said, and effusively told me how he’d heard of our religion.
I had a split second to decide—this was not long after President Russell M. Nelson had spoken during October 2018 general conference about the importance of calling The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by its full and proper name. In that address, he said:
If someone should ask, “Are you a Mormon?” you could reply, “If you are asking if I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, yes, I am!”
If someone asks, “Are you a Latter-day Saint?” you might respond, “Yes, I am. I believe in Jesus Christ and am a member of His restored Church.”
This seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out what the prophet had said. Politely, I told the driver that many people knew us by the name “Mormons,” but really our church was called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“You believe in Jesus Christ?” he asked.
I was stunned. He didn’t know? For some reason, I just assumed that of course he would know we believed in Christ if he was familiar with the Church. But then again, why would he know? Christ was not any part of the name “Mormon.” The driver then proceeded to tell me that he was Catholic and he also believed in Christ. We talked more about our religions until he dropped me off at the temple, which he recognized was an important building to my faith.
It had worked—just as President Nelson had said it would. In fact, not only had it worked, but President Nelson had more or less provided me with the exact dialogue I would need to use in a situation like this. It was a lesson to me that this emphasis on calling the Church by its full name was indeed revelation—had I not heard that direction from the prophet, I might never have told this man the full name of the Church, and that driver might never have known how important Christ was to me or to members of the Church.
Declaring our Affiliation
In this week’s Sunday on Monday podcast, host Tammy Uzelac Hall discusses 3 Nephi when the people ask the Savior what they should call the name of the Church. Tammy highlights 3 Nephi 27:5, where the Savior answers their question. It reads:
Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;
Drawing a parallel to our day and the name of the Church, Tammy reminds listeners of President Nelson’s powerful promise that he gave during general conference two years ago:
“My dear brothers and sisters, I promise you that if we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church, He whose Church this is will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen. We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord,” President Nelson said.
In April general conference, President Nelson renewed that promise once again. Following up with a challenge in her podcast, Tammy then gives this invitation to her listeners:
“Here’s challenge number one. Maybe we just need to declare our affiliation to Christ’s church by being bold but not overbearing . . . Maybe heaven knows that we all need power. And I know I need power, and if it can be given to me by just declaring without any bit of sarcasm that I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—I’m willing to do that for that kind of power. And maybe that’s what the Lord is waiting for us as members of the Church to do, to really take on that name.”
Lifting Up and Drawing unto Him
“Don’t Miss This” YouTube hosts Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler also highlight 3 Nephi 27 in their video discussing the Come, Follow Me chapters this week. In the episode, they note that the name of the Church is important enough to Christ that it is mentioned both in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. They then discuss that the reason the Savior’s name is significant when using the name of the Church is because it is built upon His gospel.
Freeman highlights verses 13 and 21 in the chapter, which are “bookends” where the Savior defines what His gospel is. Butler also points out verse 14, where the Savior said He was sent to “be lifted up upon the cross.” It is through His sacrifice, Butler continues, that the Savior is able to lift up and save the entire human family.
The words “lift up” are used repeatedly in verse 14, Freeman continues, and they are a reminder of how we can “draw unto” the Savior and help others do the same.
“As we think about those words, what are we doing within our faith community that actually is doing that? How are we lifting through Christ and through His teachings? And then how are we drawing people to Him? And is that a conscious choice for us as we teach Jesus Christ in everything that we’re doing?” she asks.
The teachers also discuss the end of the chapter and how a future generation will fall away, as Butler expounds on a well-known verse in 3 Nephi 27:33.
“Where he says, ‘strait is the gate and narrow is the way and few be there that find it,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, do you know what’s so interesting about that narrow gate, is that it goes through one person. That’s why it’s narrow, because it’s actually a one on one relationship,” he says. “It’s one on one with him, that’s what happens,” Butler says.
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Putting Away Contention
The Come, Follow Me manual notes that the people in 4 Nephi were able to maintain peace for nearly 200 years, and asks readers to consider “marking or noting the choices that people made in order to experience this blessed life.”
Part of the answer to the divine peace these people experienced may be found in 4 Nephi 1:2, which says that “there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.”
If the people in 4 Nephi had no contention among themselves, this might lead us to consider how can reach that same ideal. In her book The Heavens Are Open, Sister Wendy Nelson discusses the importance of eliminating contention, since “the Savior taught that contention is to be done away. Period.” She then lists some truths she learned from studying 3 Nephi 11–17 about removing contention:
• the importance of using a softer voice;
• the importance of repeating loving words—even when others don’t respond;
• the power that our thoughts have on others to influence them—positively or negatively;
• the importance of commending others in public;
• the importance of handling with extreme care and love the first few minutes when we are with someone—for example, the first few minutes in the morning and the first few minutes when we come back together at the end of the day.
The doctrine of “zero contention,” Sister Nelson continues, is one that we can practice in our own life.
“We can continue to keep the Savior’s doctrine of zero contention at the forefront of our minds and in our hearts,” she says. “We can pray to see our part—is there anything we are unintentionally doing that is fueling the contention? When all is said and done, we can control only our own behavior and reactions. Thus, we can be the ones to repent. We can apologize. We can resist the urge to judge. We can pray to understand the other person’s point of view. And we can forgive. We can pray to do everything that is possible to put contention away.”
As we study Come, Follow Me this week, I hope it will be an opportunity to see how we can better eliminate contention in our lives and in the lives our loved ones in order to live a more blessed life.
Or perhaps through our studies we can discover ways to “lift up” others and invite them to “draw unto” Christ as we become closer to Him ourselves.
And maybe we can ponder how we to testify of the Savior by using the full name of the Church and trust that, as President Nelson said, He will “pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen.”