Spectator Discipleship


I was impressed by these words; “A friend of mine recently wrote to me, confiding that he was having a difficult time keeping his testimony strong and vibrant. He asked for counsel.I wrote back to him and lovingly suggested a few specific things he could do that would align his life more closely with the teachings of the restored gospel. To my surprise, I heard back from him only a week later. The essence of his letter was this: “I tried what you suggested. It didn’t work. What else have you got?”Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.” (The Way of the Disciple, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf , Second Counselor in the First Presidency).

I was impressed by President Uchtdorf’s experience as it mirrors many such examples from my own life. Oft times, in an interview, an individual would speak of wanting to feel the spirit stronger in their life. As we talked it became apparent that there were many ways in which to make their life richer, more full of the spirit. Most of what I would say would not be new, rather, the same tried and true formulas presented throughout the ages presented via the scriptures or modern prophets. There is no secret formula to having a spiritually based life. The Lord doesn’t “hide” the formula from us. He has presented it to mankind throughout the ages.

“It is not enough merely to speak of Jesus Christ or proclaim that we are His disciples. It is not enough to surround ourselves with symbols of our religion. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping.

Ours is not a secondhand religion. We cannot receive the blessings of the gospel merely by observing the good that others do. We need to get off the sidelines and practice what we preach.”

The above quote from President Uchtdorf is true. “Spectator discipleship” is the preferred way of worshipping for much of the world. Some people want a quick turnaround on their ‘investment’ of time. It reminds me of some of my high school friends who would watch me wrestle. Most had no ideal how much sacrifice and effort it took to keep in shape just to be able to last six minutes against another man. In the middle of the match they could be heard yelling, “Get up, get out!”. Easy to say it, another thing to do it. But becoming a champion wrestler is no different than becoming a champion saint. If we work hard, endure, and have patience, it will pay off in the end.

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