Saturday, May 05, 2018

May Week 1 - Gaining a Testimony

The Context of Religion

Write the world's population number at the top of the board.  Next have them find the number of members in each of the major world religions.  Next, break down the Christian religions and then break down the Mormon religions by the numbers (list off a few off-shoots both from the 1800's as well as the 1900's).

The moneyball stat is that Mormonism represents about 0.2% of the world's current population and about 0.7% of the world's Christian population.

Write on the board the word TESTIMONY.

Let the numbers sink in a bit to let them see the odds of finding the one true religion on earth as well as what it means in terms of converting the world to Mormonism.

99.78% of the world doesn't not believe in Mormonism!  Truly astronomical odds!

As of  May 2017, the number are roughly as follows:
2.2B Christianity
1.6B Islam
1.1B Agnostic, Atheist, Secular
1.0B Hindu
1.0B Chinese Folk
0.5B Buddhism

1.2B Catholic
0.8B Protestant
0.3B Eastern Orthodox
0.05B Restorationism (0.016B Mormonism)

When we say "Testimony" what do we really mean?  Also, what do we do with people who have "come to know" their religion is the one true religion?  (see this video)  In a sense, when we say testimony, we may mean broad, widely acceptable principles and we may mean something unique about our own religion.

Maybe show a venn diagram of some 'common' commandments and beliefs along with unique commandments and beliefs to certain religions.

Gaining a Testimony

Matthew 4 - Christ fasts in the wilderness for 40 days and nights and is tempted of the devil.

Matthew 14:22-33 - Peter testifies of Jesus, sees Christ walk on water, Peter himself walks on water, doubts and Jesus saves him (O ye of little faith) and Peter reaffirms his testimony of Christ.

Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75 - Peter says he'll never deny Christ, Jesus says Peter will deny him three times before the morning.  Peter denies him three times and weeps bitterly.

Despite seeing and knowing and feeling the savior, Peter struggled mightily to gain a testimony of the Gospel.  And with all that in mind, after the savior was resurrected, Peter went back to fishing.  And along comes Jesus and the well known interchange of Jesus asking Peter if he (Peter) loves fish more than Jesus.  To which Peter responds he loves the Lord, then Christ says 'feed my sheep' ... this repeats three times.  Finally, Peter turns away from fishing and bares his testimony by showing it.

This is a good video that helps drive home the moment Peter finally grasps what Jesus has been trying to teach him all along: Elder Holland: Peter, Do You Love Me? The First and Great Commandment

And one other point - if Peter struggled so much to gain a testimony, how much harder is it for us!  Nevertheless, the challenge is worth it.

It's all about the Two Great Commandments

In summary, we gain a testimony in serving and loving others.

A testimony is not found at the pulpit on Sunday, rather it is found in serving, lifting the hands that hang low, weeping with those who weep, going the extra mile, and turning the other cheek.

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but life and judgement day and gaining a testimony and religion and all that is simply about the Two Great Commandments and nothing else truly matters.