Why Not Believe?

We are now moving on to the October 1974 General Conference.  And the first session began with a bang with a very forceful call to repentance. The theme that stood out to me the most while reading the talks is that it is so easy to rationalize away our conduct. But at the end of the day, we are called to repent and change now and we can be confident that the Lord will help us to do so now.

President Kimball spoke about the need to refrain from many of the prevalent sins and transgressions of the world, and especially about sexual sin. His words remain timely even though they are even more likely to discomfort today. But what stood out to me was this moving passage:

“Remember that the coming of the Lord approaches, and some difficult-to-answer questions will be asked by a divine Judge who will be hard to satisfy with silly explanations and rationalizations. He will judge justly, you may be sure.”

Elder Maxwell’s talk “Why Not Now?” hit some very similar notes and did not with elder Maxwell’s characteristic rhetorical flourish:

“Indeed, one of the most cruel games anyone can play with self is the “not yet” game—hoping to sin just a bit more before ceasing; to enjoy the praise of the world a little longer before turning away from the applause; to win just once more in the wearying sweepstakes of materialism; to be chaste, but not yet; to be good neighbors, but not now. One can play upon the harpstrings of hesitations and reservations just so long, and then one faces that special moment—a moment when what has been sensed, mutely, suddenly finds voice and cries out with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.’ (Mark 9:24.)

The truth is that “not yet” usually means “never.” Trying to run away from the responsibility to decide about Christ is childish. Pilate sought to refuse responsibility for deciding about Christ, but Pilate’s hands were never dirtier than just after he had washed them.”

We are in this mortal existence precisely to make us choose in the scope of time. We do not have eternity to make choices because this life was given to us as a day of choosing. Of course, we do believe that those deceased can continue to hear the message, but nevertheless, we need to know living righteously is to be done now rather than later. We must love the Lord enough to make whatever changes are necessary.

Elder Maxwell closed with a clever take on the second coming: “And, if you sense that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, why not do so now? For in the coming of that collective confession, it will mean much less to kneel down when it is no longer possible to stand up!”

If we will bow down eventually, then why wait?


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