What lessons can we learn from the Sermon on the Mount? Below are some of my thoughts.
A Tragic Story
This is a bit anecdotal, so take it for what it’s worth, but I’ve found that in my experience people often equate being a good example with being a good missionary. This idea reminds me of an experience my mission president shared with a group of missionaries while I was in Hawaii.
An LDS man (that my mission president knew) was approached by a friend at work. This friend said to him something like, “Over the past thirty years, I’ve seen you act like a true disciple of Christ. Your actions have impressed me again and again, and recently have pushed me to investigate what has made you so different, so happy. After looking into your church, I’ve decided that I would like to become a part of it. I’d like to be baptized!”
At this point, my mission president said, “Now this is a great story, but does anyone see anything wrong with it?”
We were all silent for a few moments. Then, cautiously, one of us raised his hand.
“Yes?” asked my mission president.
“It took thirty years?”
“It took thirty years!”
And, of course, we then talked about what a tragedy it is when bringing someone to the Savior takes so long because we rely solely on our example. It’s an even greater tragedy when it doesn’t happen at all.
Thinking about this story, and reading into Matthew 5:14-16, we can come up with a two by two matrix that will help us think about missionary work more accurately and, in turn, be better missionaries. It looks something like this:
Being a good example is like being “lit”. When we’re acting like disciples of Christ should, we give off light. Yet there is a difference in who benefits from that light, depending on what we do with it. Are we on a candlestick? Or do we hide under a bushel?
Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not advocating we be like the Pharisees, whom the Savior condemns in just the next chapter for doing good works before men, to be seen of them. What I am advocating, though, is pairing our good example with something additional – an invitation, a commitment, a short testimony – that can be tied to our Savior. This then becomes a tangible effort to bring others to him.
With this pairing, we place our light on a candlestick. Remember, the only quadrant where missionary work takes place is the top left. None of the other three, including the bottom left, lead others to Christ.
Continuing the Series
- Thoughts from the Sermon on the Mount – Mountains
- Thoughts from the Sermon on the Mount – Salt
- Thoughts from the Sermon on the Mount – Light