Since we just talked had a lesson about Joseph Smith, and the importance of having a testimony of Joseph Smith in December I wanted to take this lesson in a different direction. First, I would like to thank ClassicMormon Mom for her post on this same lesson, which provided me some direction.
Witnesses of Christ
Joseph Fielding Smith states, “Two themes stand out uppermost in my mind. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet called and appointed to usher in the dispensation of the fullness of times.”
We can hardly speak of Joseph Smith without Speaking of Jesus Christ. When we speak of Joseph Smith we talk about his first vision, and the work he did to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the men of this generation. Joseph smith’s witness and testimony of the Risen Savior is the foundation upon which we stand. Without the first vision, Joseph Smith is just a boy from upstate New York. Maybe we would have known him for something else, but that isn’t what happened. Joseph Smith, a boy of 14 was visited by God the Father, and his son, Jesus Christ. Because of this event, this witness, and this testimony Joseph Smith restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in its fullness to the Earth.
That is the testimony this great work stands on.
Though I don’t know a lot about the relationship between Joseph and Hyrum, I know they were more than brothers. They were best friends, and brothers in Christ. They loved and supported each other, and trusted each other with their lives. Joseph Smith had so much respect for his brother, he is quoted as saying, “I could pray in my heart that all my brethren were like unto my beloved brother Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of the lamb, and the integrity of a Job, and in short, the meekness and humility of Christ and I love him with that love that is stronger than death, for I never occasion to rebuke him, nor he me.” (JSF Manual, page 112)
In 1841, Hyrum was called to be Assistant President of the Church. In his ordination he was told, “That he may act in concert with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery. That my servant Hyrum may bear record of the things which I shall show unto him, that his name may be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever.” (D&C124:94-96) Working so closely in the Church Presidency together only strengthened their bond of brotherhood, which would continue to grow until they were both martyred in Carthage Jail.
Joseph and Hyrum Smith's Last Ride - Memorial in Nauvoo, Ill
Brothers in Christ
In February of 1999 Gordon B. Hinckley, in an address to the Salt Lake Tabernacle, declared that the first thing every convert needs is “a friend.” Look at your Quorums, your wards, your stakes, and the church as a whole. We have strength and a bond that goes beyond this life. The priesthood connects us. It strengthens our bond as sons of God. When we consider the Priesthood, we think of worthiness, honesty, and integrity. Though not all men who hold the Priesthood have these attributes, we know that their incidence is higher than in the rest of the world, and that most are working to overcome their shortcomings. So, through the Priesthood our trust is strengthen, and our love deepened because we know the manner of men which stand by us.
So, look to your quorums first. Who among your brethren stands in need of a friend? Is it a new convert? Is it a returning member? Is it a struggling member? Is it you? Don’t be afraid to approach start a friendship with that person in need, or if it’s you, search out a friendship. Sure, your bond may feel artificial at first, even forced, but over time your bond will deepen. If you continue in this friendship, your bond may even be as close as Joseph and Hyrum’s bond once was. Imagine the love and respect you are leaving behind by letting these opportunities pass you by. Imagine having somebody you can trust that much.
Strength in Companionship
Humans need interaction. Satan knows this, which is why he likes to get you alone. When we are alone we are at our weakest, and when we are weak, he can entice us with “goodies.” We may indulge in a goody, then another, and another. Each time we do we are being rewarded for being alone, and since we don’t get any goodies when we are not alone, we get the equivalent of a punishment until we ARE again alone. (Do you see the cycle here?) P.S. There is research to support this. All you have to do is Google any kind of addiction and the word loneliness to find it.
Sin causes man to seek darkness, and loneliness. It is in the empty darkness that they can hide their darkest deeds. That is why the Savior commands us to almost always have a companion. We have companions in parents and siblings as a child. We have companions when we go on missions. We have a companion when we Home Teach. We are commanded to marry, which adds an eternal companion. So then does is not make sense to add to your list of companions through friends, and brothers in the Gospel? When God said of Adam, “it is not good that man should be alone,” (Gen 2:18) he wasn’t kidding. When we have a companion, one who will see that we are “nourished by the good word of God,” (Moroni 6:4) we will not be left alone to the darkness, to be dragged down by the wiles of Satan.
The lesson here is actually simple.
1. Seek to gain, or strengthen your testimony of the atonement, and the restoration of the gospel in these latter days.
2. Seek out friends(s) whose testimony and resolve you can strengthen, OR seek out friend(s) who can strengthen your testimony and resolve.
3. Strengthen that friendship(s), and support each other in Christ, not in sin.
Remember, when you make friends that the goal isn’t retention. We aren’t looking to bolster numbers. The goal is to grow in love for somebody so much that you want nothing more than for them to be saved, for the Gospel is about the pure love of Christ, not numbers.