During the month of December, Christians throughout the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Even in the predominantly non-Christian countries of Asia, we see displays of lights and Merry Christmas greetings. Many, however, have little knowledge of the significance of the birth, life and ministry of the Savior of the world, the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
Those of us who have come unto Christ and received the ordinance of baptism, have made a covenant to stand as a witness of Him “at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in.” (Mosiah 18:9). During this Christmas season and throughout the year, I invite you to consider your own discipleship and how you can become a better witness of our Heavenly Father and His Son.
Strive to Become more like Christ
True followers of Christ continually strive to be more like Him. Through the study of His life as described in the scriptures, we learn of His attributes, how He acted in various circumstances, and of His complete and unwavering desire to always do the will of His Father.
Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me...” (John 14:21). Our discipleship and love for Jesus are manifest through our faithfulness in keeping His commandments. As we strive to be more like the Savior, the natural result will be a greater love for Him and a desire to do the will of the Father in all things.
Be an Example of the Believers
When I served in India as a mission president, Sister Funk and I noticed a wonderful tradition. During the month of December, many Christians put an illuminated star in the window of their homes or on the front of their house. It was a way of showing others during that time of the year that they were followers of Christ. It seemed to indicate that they, like the shepherds of old, had followed the star and found Jesus. In some countries and cultures in the Asia Area, it may not be appropriate to put a star in the window of our home. Wherever we live, however, the light of our faith, as reflected in our countenance and our example of goodness can be a standard that others will be drawn to as they see us.
In latter-day scripture, we who are members of the Church are directed by the Lord: “Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations.” (D&C 115:5). Our kindness, our integrity, our service will cause others to be drawn to the source of our goodness. “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Find Joy and Feel Gratitude for the Plan of Happiness
A former senior missionary in our Area seemed to always feel grateful and happy. He had some challenges with his health, but he served very well. Whenever I asked how he was doing, he responded in a way that reflected his joy. One time his response helped me understand why he was always so happy. He said, with sincerity, “I think I must be Heavenly Father’s favorite child. He just keeps giving me more and more blessings. I don’t know why He loves me so much.”
Each of us is loved by our Heavenly Father more than we can comprehend. In our pre-mortal life, we knew Him and loved Him. We trusted in the plan He provided for us, the central part of which is the atonement of Jesus Christ. When Adam and Eve learned of this plan they felt great joy and taught the plan to their sons and daughters. (see Moses 5:10-12). Today, we feel this same joy as we understand the plan and follow the Savior. As President Uchtdorf recently testified, “Those who make this world a better place, one caring and loving act at a time, and who strive to live the blessed, satisfying, and peaceable life of a disciple of Jesus Christ are those who will eventually find joy.' 1
During this Christmas season and throughout the year, may we more fully and completely give the Savior the gift He would most desire - our willingness to follow Him. As we do so, we will be a light to others, and even in times of difficulty or affliction, we will feel the peace and joy that comes from our knowledge of and trust in the great plan of happiness.
Caption: Elder Randy D. Funk
1 Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “A Disciple’s Life,” Ensign, August 2017, 5.