As a disciple of Christ, one of my goals in life is to become converted to the Gospel. I don’t mean that I’ve joined a particular church and pay tithes and offerings. I mean I desire to become truly converted. But what does this entail? A quick Internet search yields many pages that list qualities and characteristics of true conversion. I have read through many of these lists and have compiled my own characteristics of true conversion.
I believe that True Conversion manifests itself by:
- Striving to be different from the world
- Showing great love and compassion toward others
- Standing as a witness of Christ at all times, and in all things and in all places
- Desiring to be an instrument in the hands of God
- Having no desire to sin
- Seeking after righteousness
- Praying always
- Pondering the Word of the Lord frequently
- Demonstrating gratitude, even in the face of adversity
- Enduring all things to receive Exaltation
There are many other things a true convert will show, but these items sum it up for me (at least at this point in my life). Now for some details regarding each of these items.
Striving to be different from the world
“…ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darknessinto his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9, emphasis added).
“…Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people” (Exodus 19:4, emphasis added).
As we obey the commandments of God, we become different from the world…we set ourselves apart from our neighbors as something unique, something special. This then opens many doors for us. Sometimes it opens the door to missionary work–as people notice our differences, we have opportunities to testify of Christ. Other times it opens the door to ridicule–then we have the opportunity to learn patience and long suffering.
Showing great love and compassion toward others
We are commanded to show love and compassion toward others. When Christ walked upon the Earth, he went about showing love to everyone–those who were easy to love like his disciples…and those who were shunned by society like the lepers. One time, he was asked what the greatest commandment was. His answer? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Having this great love is so important that Paul later teaches this lesson: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Without Charity, we are nothing. Without a love for our fellow man, we are nothing.
Standing as a witness of Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places
The Book of Mormon Prophet Alma taught his people repentance, redemption, and faith. Then he presented this proposition to them: “Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:7-10).
When we are truly converted, there will be no time or circumstance we find ourselves in which we are not willing to testify of Christ.
Desiring to be an instrument in the hands of God
For this quality, I want to share a parable.
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:20-22).
As we purge from ourselves unrighteous thoughts and behaviors, we become an instrument ready for the Lord to use to further his work. We become, in the words of Alma, “instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work” (Alma 26:3).
see also “Become an Instrument in the Hands of God“
Having no desire to sin
The people of King Benjamin, once they were taught the gospel, all declared to King Benjamin that they had “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). When we are truly converted, we lose our desire to sin. This doesn’t mean the temptations will all go away, simply that the temptations are no longer desirable to us.
Seeking after righteousness
The 13th Article of Faith declares: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” I also like the description given in Psalm 42:1-2. “As the [deer] panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
Perhaps most beautifully are the words of the Savior himself. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). I do not think it is an accident that Christ uses the words “hunger” and “thirst”. We are told elsewhere to “feast on the words of Christ.” We also literally “eat” and “drink” in commemoration of his Atoning Sacrifice. Righteousness is found in the Savior and we are to seek it out.
This is one of my favorites because it gives me a communication path to my Father in Heaven. It lets me know that not only can I pray, but that I am commanded to pray. In Ephesians 6, Paul teaches us about the Armor of God. After we put on the whole armor of God, we are then told to “[Pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and [watch] thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi taught:
And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” (2 Nephi 32:8-9).
Pondering the Word of the Lord frequently
I hope that when I one day stand face-to-face with the Lord, I will recognize his voice. In order to be ready to recognize his voice, I have to know what it sounds like. I can learn this by studying his words in the Holy Scriptures. There’s something very special about the words of Christ that are recorded in the Holy Bible and in the Book of Mormon. They teach us directly from the Savior–no intermediary. As we come to know these words, we’ll be ready to listen to the Savior when we meet him.
Demonstrating gratitude, even in the face of adversity
This characteristic isn’t an easy one. Perhaps the best known Bible story on adversity and gratitude is Job. Here is a man who lost everything…and yet still showed gratitude. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith these words: “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious” (D&C 78:19).
see also “Grateful in Any Circumstance“
Enduring all things to receive Exaltation
Finally, we must remember that this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God. This life is part of the journey to eternity…it is not the destination. When we die, we will be Resurrected…either to eternal glory or eternal damnation. The choices we make now, the actions we take each day, will determine our eternal reward.
As I said in a previous post, families are eternal. But in order to be with our family throughout all eternity, we must strive toward that eternity together. We have to be ready and willing to endure all things here and now so that we can receive all things later. When things get tough and we think we’re at the end of our patience and hope, we can find solace in the words of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith.
“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8).