Brother Nick Galieti, the podcast manager for FairMormon, asked for our personal testimony as a special gift this Easter. I responded that it would be an honor. Testimonies are often given in LDS sacrament meetings on a local level to a few hundred; but as a podcaster I get the privilege to share my testimony to many thousands. It is indeed a true honor that I take seriously. There are places in the world today where any public expression of religious belief is met with ridicule and government suppression. With such a privilege comes responsibility and I would like to start my testimony with the words of Elder Holland. In the October 2014 conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he said this in reference to the forth mission of the Church: To care for the poor and needy.
In what would be the most startling moment of His early ministry, Jesus stood up in His home synagogue in Nazareth and read these words prophesied by Isaiah and recorded in the Gospel of Luke: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and … set at liberty them that are bruised.”
Thus, the Savior made the first public announcement of His messianic ministry. But this verse also made clear that on the way to His ultimate atoning sacrifice and Resurrection, Jesus’ first and foremost messianic duty would be to bless the poor, including the poor in spirit.
From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus loved the impoverished and the disadvantaged in an extraordinary way. He was born into the home of two of them and grew up among many more of them. We don’t know all the details of His temporal life, but He once said, “Foxes have holes, and … birds … have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Apparently the Creator of heaven and earth “and all things that in them are” was, at least in His adult life, homeless.
Down through history, poverty has been one of humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenges. Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating. In any case, the great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join Him in lifting this burden from the people. As Jehovah, He said He would judge the house of Israel harshly because “the spoil of the [needy] is in your houses.”
“What mean ye,” He cried, “that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor?”
The writer of Proverbs would make the matter piercingly clear: “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker,” and “whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor … shall [also] cry himself, but shall not be heard.”
In our day, the restored Church of Jesus Christ had not yet seen its first anniversary when the Lord commanded the members to “look to the poor and … needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer.” Note the imperative tone of that passage—“they shall not suffer.” That is language God uses when He means business.
I agree with Elder Holland. When the Lord uses this type of language, He means business. In the book of James chapter 1 verse 27, pure religion is defined: “Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” As members of the Lord’s Church we have a sacred responsibility to succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees as recorded in the 81st section of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is my testimony the Lord stands ready to receive all those who come until Him. He is the great healer. The perfect physician and His Church is committed to performing this great commission. In Jeremiah 29:11 we read. “For I know the plans1 I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper2 you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This hope is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ and I for one stand ready at all times and in all places to give an answer to everyone who asks me a reason for the hope that is in me with kindness and patience for those with whom I witness and respect and reverence for almighty God. (1 Peter 3:15.)
Personally, I honor the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence concerning these penned words: “[W]ith a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” I can say with full purpose of heart that I pledge my life, whatever fortune I may have and my sacred honor to the Father of Heaven and Earth and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for Their purpose and glory. We read in Romans 8:16 that “the Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” It is to him that we need look for our purpose and hope in this life and the life to come. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
As always the views and opinions expressed in this podcast may not represent those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon.