Are Mormons Christians: How to be a Christian (Part 3)

Dr. Tyler Griffin

Dr. Tyler Griffin

Source Expert

Dr. Tyler Griffin’s career in education started with six years teaching seminary in Brigham City. He then spent seven years instructing at the Logan LDS Institute and helped launch the online seminary program. Currently, he’s a professor at BYU with over ten years of experience. Dr. Griffin co-founded the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group and holds degrees in Electrical Engineering, Instructional Technology (Master’s and PhD). He has authored and co-authored several religious books.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Well, then, in verse 22 and 23, we encounter the concept of light and the beautiful image of Jesus as light. In section 93, you can cross-reference: “The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Now, it turns out, as fallen nature humans, all of us at times struggle with having all the light in our eye that we want. Members across the spectrum of Christianity, even in Christianity vs Mormonism. Again, Jesus is using, as a good teacher, a very stark contrast between light and dark to teach a principle that we should be pursuing after the light of Jesus in our souls and our lives so we can have that joy. If we are pursuing darkness, if we’re pursuing the treasure of this Earth, nothing else, then we are missing the opportunity to have God’s light with us. So, our hope is that nobody feels overwhelmed if they may have messed up at some point. That means that they’re forever full of darkness.

And then, these next couple of verses are quite interesting. Again, he’s using a small case study or two to explain some principles. He says, “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.” The idea is, imagine if you had two bosses who both had equal sway on your time and your responsibilities. What if they both gave contradictory claims on your time? Who would you serve? You would have to serve one at the expense of the other or vice versa. And what Jesus is trying to say is that you, in the long run, truly cannot be on the devil’s side and in His kingdom and also experience all that God wants for you. You just can’t. So, it is a stark contrast, and obviously, there’s a lot of gray area in our lives as we are making our way into God’s Kingdom. 

But the point is to make this clear difference: Seek and strive to be serving God’s interests, and as much as possible, be aware where you’re not because ultimately, if you don’t serve God’s interests, your interests will not be served. This next section, beginning in verse 25, is about His disciples going out to preach the gospel. He says to them, “Therefore, I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Isn’t life more than meat and the body than raiment?” 

And then he gives this beautiful analogy, “Behold the fowls of the air,” and it makes you wonder if there was a flock of birds overhead right at that moment as he points because he is so able as the Master Teacher to use things that really connect with people and that from then on they’ll be able to remember. The next time they see a flock of birds, the memory of his voice will echo in their minds. “Consider these fowls up in the air; they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” They’re creatures. They were created by Him, but you aren’t a creature; you are a child of God. You have the capacity to grow up to become more like Him.

Now, verse 27, “Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit unto a stature? And why take your thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.” And then he compares it to Solomon, the richest, most prosperous King in possibly the history of the ancient Near East. Of all the kings, this guy excelled all of them in wisdom and in riches. He’s saying, “Look at the lilies of the fields, these flowers that are growing here in the Galilee.” You can imagine the people looking at them. He’s saying they’re not toiling; they’re not laboring, but God gives them the raiment that they need. Even in terms of Christianity vs Mormonism, God provides for His people.

It reminds me of a family history story of my great-grandpa living in Clarkston, Utah. He had been called on a mission, and back then, these men were called on missions in General Conference, from the pulpit, and then they would have to leave their families, their wives, and children, their farm, and go on the mission. Well, that was his situation, and he didn’t have a ton of extra money, and his shoes weren’t great. He was walking across a field in the city center there in Clarkston, Utah, when he looked down and saw a gleam and picked up a silver five-dollar coin. He thought, “Ah, perfect answer from heaven. I’m going to be able to go and buy a nice pair of new shoes to serve this mission,” because it costs five dollars at the time. And then the thought came, “Take that coin to Brother So-and-So because he doesn’t have any shoes.” I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll go buy the new shoes and give these old ones to him.” I’ve always been inspired by my great-grandpa who acted on that, and he went and gave that five-dollar coin to this brother who was able to go and buy shoes so he could go on the mission.

And then at one point serving on his mission, and now there are holes in the bottom of his shoes, they’ve worn out, there’s nothing left. Once again, walking on a road one day, he looked down and saw a gleam, and there was another five-dollar coin that he was able to find and go and get shoes. That, to me, is the epitome of what Jesus is teaching in this chapter. We live in a world that wants to hoard everything for ourselves, and he’s saying, “Can you trust me? I hold worlds without numbers in my hand. I clothe the flowers of the field, and I take care of the birds of the sky. I will take care of my servants; I will provide for them as the needs arise.” It’s a powerful concept on the covenant path for us.

And he concludes the thought with, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for tomorrow; the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” So concluding this part of The Sermon on the Mount is, as we seek God’s righteousness, Jesus began with: “don’t try to seek your own righteousness, and don’t try to display righteousness. See God’s righteousness, and everything will work out.” 
We invite you to think about times in your life when you have seen that be true. And if you haven’t documented it, take the time to write it down or share, as appropriate, with others how you have seen God’s promises in your life when you have sought his righteousness and he has given you the blessings that he has in store. When people ask ‘are Mormons Christians?’ Don’t be afraid to elaborate and testify that they believe in Jesus. It’s a powerful invitation, especially when we look to the past to see where God has done that for us. To then inspire us in the present to go and seek his kingdom and to seek to build up the kingdom as we move forward with him on the covenant path into a glorious future.

By Dr. Tyler Griffin, Source Expert

Dr. Tyler Griffin embarked on his professional journey by teaching seminary courses for a period of six years in Brigham City, Utah. Following that, he dedicated the subsequent seven years to instructing at the Logan LDS Institute, located adjacent to Utah State University. Alongside his participation in the Seminary Preservice program, he spearheaded and supervised the implementation of the online seminary program. Dr. Griffin has been an educator at BYU for well over a decade and holds a co-founding position within the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group. His undergraduate degree is in Electrical Engineering, while both his master’s and doctorate degrees center around Instructional Technology. Dr. Griffin is the exclusive author of “When Heaven Appears Distant” co-author of “Come Unto Me: Illuminating the Savior’s Life, Mission, Parables, and Miracles” and co-editor of “Millions Shall Rediscover Brother Joseph.”

By Dr. Taylor Halverson, Source Expert

Dr. Taylor Halverson is a biblical scholar and instructional technologist. He serves as an Entrepreneurship professor in the BYU Marriott School of Business, where he contributes to the development of groundbreaking resources for BMC, including ScripturePlus and the Come Follow Me video series.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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