The visitations of Christ did not happen over the sequence of a few days. As we read in Third Nephi, there was some time interval between his appearances:
“1 AND it came to pass that as the disciples of Jesus were journeying and were preaching the things which they had both heard and seen, and were baptizing in the name of Jesus, it came to pass that the disciples were gathered together and were united in mighty prayer and fasting.”
The twelve disciples had come back together after taking the message out to the people and were likely discussing the results and where the message could be strengthened. I find it interesting that the main question they apparently had was in regard to the name of the Church.
“3 And they said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter.”
Christ reinforced the idea that the church, the message, and their efforts should be focused on Him.
“5 Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;
6 And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.”
Besides carrying His name, the Church must be based on His gospel. This gathering was also an opportunity to restate the core of the message – the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—”
Christ was crucified that he ‘might draw all men unto [Him].’ This, I believe, is the core message of this Easter season as well as the central theme of any organization that is called by His name and is based on His gospel. The entire focus of His church is to bring souls to Christ. Any efforts or programs or activities that detract from that message should not be sanctioned by his Church.
Are there messages in the church today that direct our focus to another person? Are we told to follow some person rather than be drawn to Christ? If so, we should repent and restore our line of sight to Him who carries the ability to ‘wash our garments in [His] blood’ and cleanse us of all sin. It is Christ alone that should be the center of our devotion and action. No other person or program will bring the desired outcome.
Our efforts in His church should be, first, to bring ourselves to activate these words in our lives:
“19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.”
The second effort should be to assist Christ in bringing all men to Him. We cannot allow a bureaucracy and a mile long list of ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots’ cloud our perception of the real meaning of the message of Christ. We are to do as the disciples of old were told. Take only the words they were given and instruct those willing to listen.
As this Easter season wanes and is again replaced by the standard program I encourage all of you to re-evaluate your ‘program.’ Do my activities, spiritual and religious, fulfill the directive to bring people to Christ? Do we think we can accomplish this by attracting people’s attention to beautiful buildings or tons of relief, or by some other work of man? The challenge to each of us is to live a Christ-centered life and to do the works of God.