Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Changing Power of the Holy Ghost

I've often pondered the Lord's command not to judge others lest we be judged in the same way. Personally, I believe He is referring to passing final judgment or concluding that someone is doomed to hell. But conduct, in my opinion, falls outside the scope of His commandment. How else could we forgive someone unless we judge their conduct as inappropriate?
But if we want to encourage others to stop their inappropriate conduct, we need to recognize that walking up to someone and saying, "you sinned when you did 'X'" is among the least effective ways of bringing him to Christ. Instead, we should seek earnestly to help him feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. And the power of the Holy Ghost will guide him to change his behavior.
On Sunday, a member of my Elder's Quorum related the stories of two people who lived in Boston:
Years ago, missionaries whom he served with were going from house to house offering to share the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unbeknownst to them, they knocked on the door of a brothel. The women thought it would be funny to invite two Mormon missionaries into a house of ill-refute. The missionaries taught them about the restoration of the Gospel and left a copy of the Book of Mormon. Months later, the madame-in-charge was baptised and abandoned her former profession. She even began accompanying the sister missionaries (women missionaries) while they shared the message of the Restored Gospel.
The missionaries didn't have to tell her conduct was sinful. But by the power of the Holy Ghost she recognized that she needed to change. And she did.
Thankfully, the missionaries didn't stop teaching her when they learned she was a prostitute.
On another occasion, another set of missionaries went from house to house and taught a homosexual couple about the Restored Gospel. The missionaries didn't tell the men about Sodom and Gomorrah or read Romans 1:26-27 with them. Instead, they taught them about Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, and that He appeared with His Father to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1820. They were invited back.
On their return visit, one of the men was more interested than the other. In fact, he had shaved and cleaned up for them. They taught him more about the Restored Gospel and were invited back.
When they returned, he had cut his hair in a similar style as the missionaries. They taught him more, and he asked them to return.
On their fourth visit, the man was dressed in a suit and tie and carried the copy of the Book of Mormon he had been studying.
Without prompting from the missionaries, he left his partner of fifteen years, an extremely difficult sacrifice. He was baptised and later served as the President of his Stake's mission (a Stake is an organization made up of smaller local congregations, much like an archdiocese). And although he struggled with his homosexuality, he remained faithful in the Church until he died while he was working in his garden.
Thankfully, the missionaries didn't stop teaching him because he was a homosexual.
As evinced by these two accounts, the Holy Ghost has great power to bring about change. And our role is to invite others to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the Gospel, people will open their hearts to the Holy Ghost, and following His promptings, they will judge themselves and make the changes He inspires them to make.
I testify of the power of the Holy Ghost. It is by His power that I have recognized many sins and shortcomings in my conduct and in myself. And I testify that if we will follow His promptings we will find greater joy and peace than we can ever imagine.


Chedner said...

I know exactly what you mean; I know very well a young man who was in a horrible dark misery... financially speaking, he was rather unable to sustain himself, was sinking quickly into a seemingly unsurmountable debt, dragging his parents down with him. Not only was he sinking financially, but he was slipping into a depression from which he would have never returned. He could not find any purpose in life, despite the sincere efforts to follow the life that would make him popular with his culture.

And then he picked up the Book of Mormon with trembling hands and uttered a deep prayer for guidance. He spent the next couple days kneeling by his bedside devouring the words of the prophets in the Book of Mormon. He was truly nurtured spiritual as the comforting Spirit of the Holy Ghost was made manifest in that room.

He was given the courage to make a rather difficult sacrifice, himself, but which sacrifice enabled him to shed the grasps of misery, to enter into a life of financial self-sufficiency, and -- most importantly -- to find purpose in a life he thought could hold none.

To this day, he clings to and relies solely upon that Spirit brought forth by the Book of Mormon and the testimony it bears of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Craig said...

That is a great example. Thanks for sharing.