Jan 17, 2014

Let your Light Shine (an answer to the question "Why does the topic of church seem to make people hostile?")

Recently, I was looking over old journal entries the other day and found a number with a common theme.  Usually written in frustration over a snide remark made toward my religion and beliefs, I wondered in writing, "Why do people get offended when I talk about my beliefs?" 

Repeatedly, people I've associated with would share--in great detail at times--tales of their work, mechanics of their aircraft, sports of all kinds, one-night-stand conquests, alcohol-induced escapades, etc.  I've never been offended by these subjects, although I do find some of them boring at times (due to lack of interest).  All, apparently, are perfectly acceptable topics of conversation...well, the last two maybe not so much in certain social settings.  But I've noticed if I (or anyone else) bring up the topic of religion in a positive tone, some people respond not just negatively, but hostility.  The topic won't even have to be in a proselyting manner:  a post on Facebook of a scripture I really like, a passing comment about a lesson at church, or mention of future plans to visit the temple.  All of a sudden, I'm portrayed by these commentators as being bigoted, critical, judgmental, ignorant, a "Bible thumper" (that was actually used and I have no clue what it means), etc.  Yet again, this is just a casual post about my love of the gospel.  It worries me as to the reaction I would get if I invite them to attend church to support me when I'm giving a talk (speaking from the pulpit) or singing in the choir.  For years, I've never understood where all this hostility toward religious conversation comes from.

On a short side note, I do my best to read the scriptures every day.  In my personal study, I find using a scripture study guide or companion helps me understand the words of the prophets in a deeper capacity.  Right now, I'm studying the New Testament using the study guide, The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.  Tonight's chapter is titled "Ye Must Be Born Again".  Part of the assigned reading was John 3, and as I read through this chapter, a particular passage really stood out to me.  In fact, reading it caused me to stop entirely just to ponder on those words.  They penetrated straight through to my heart and hit me deep into my core.  They are the answer to that very question which plagued me for so long:  Why is the talk of my beliefs received with hostility?

Here is my answer complete with a simple explanation in plain language, right there in the black-and-white of the Bible. John 3:19-21 says, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."

I'm not saying that those who are uncomfortable talking about gospel subjects are evil or even engaged in any evil activities.  This scripture points out though, that those who do evil love the darkness because they do not want to be reproved for their deeds.  Those who try to live righteously or are simply good people love the light for they have no worry of wicked deeds being made manifest.  I feel that those who are most hostile and cruel in their words when they pertain to religion are quite possible those who just don't want to face the darkness behind some of their own actions.  Perhaps they even know what they are doing is wrong, and they do not want to change.  Either way, this brings me comfort for I know my words are not offending this person, their negativity is a result from personal feelings of guilt in their own life.

I'm going to try my hardest to stop being so concerned with what others think of me or my beliefs.  If they get offended by a Facebook post of my favorite scripture, make a derogatory comment about my beliefs, or think I'm too "church-y", I'm not going to allow those opinions drag me into darkness.  When I share my testimony with others, I'm sharing a part of my life that makes me extremely happy and I want them to feel some of the same joy.

Heavenly Father is mindful of our prayers and wants to answer our questions.  He does so when we put forth the effort to find our answer and ask in faith.  I wouldn't have received that answer to my question if I hadn't been actively engaged in daily scripture study and open to receiving personal revelation.  Through this answer, my testimony of the importance of prayer, the scriptures, revelation, and even keeping a journal has grown.  That scripture gave me peace with an issue that consistently bothered me as those negative situations arose.  Because of this new found peace, I will let my light shine, for the light that fills me is the light of Christ.  I'm ashamed that, at times I was embarrassed by my faith and would try to hide it or laugh it off.  No longer.  I'm a proud member to be Mormon.  I'm also proud of my friends who are proud members of their faiths, no matter the church they belong to.  I hope that, together, we can all be a beacon of the love of Christ which will shine through the darkness of the world to share that light with those who are in need of it.

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