During our visit to Johannesburg SA, we attended a devotional at the Africa Southeast Area office. One topic included a concept Elder David A. Bednar had shared with Elder Carl B. Cook: Is it pure? Is it simple? This applies to how the Church is established in Africa as well as how we live our personal lives. The Church does not want Africa to become a duplicate of Utah.
Some wonder if the Church back home has become too complex, with too many programs, meetings about meetings, over-the-top lesson plans, and chatter about things that don’t matter. Just attend your Gospel Doctrine class and listen to the discussion. Some people pontificate on little known tidbits which neither strengthen testimony nor build the Kingdom. Perhaps everyone should re-take the Gospel Principles class and discuss faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the law of chastity, tithing, the word of wisdom, honoring the Sabbath day, and prayer. Is it possible that the Church back home is leaning toward Pharisaic?*
I’ve thought about Elder Bednar’s formula several times since our visit. Is it pure? Is it simple? I saw the theme again last night as I read President Cook’s message in the Liahona magazine. Quoting Elder Bednar, he wrote: “If you start right and keep it simple, you will stay right.” Then Elder Cook went on…
We can’t let the things of men or the things of the world distract us from our core beliefs. We must stay focused on the things that bring peace, joy, and success in life.
I invite each of us to evaluate whether there are things that may be overcomplicating our lives and distracting us from the things that are most important. It may be time to reestablish priorities, get rid of the things that encroach upon our time, and get back to the basics. Perhaps it is time to simplify our lives.**
As I consider what has changed in our life since we decided to serve a mission, I can see it has become very, very simple. We have no debt, we own nothing on which we must pay taxes, and we have few possessions, which is a perfect place to be at our age. The time of accumulating has passed and we are living a Spartan life. My concern is that we don’t go home after our mission and re-complicate things.
I don’t know if or when we will buy or build another house (which we will need to care for and pay taxes on). But I do believe we need to keep things pure and simple so we can retain the ability to serve any time and any place we may be called.
As we help the African Saints establish the Church here, we must be careful not to add unnecessary layers of programs and LDS traditions which can pollute the pure and simple beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we do not interfere, I firmly believe the Church in Africa will become the strongest center of faith and righteousness on earth.
**Keep it Simple by Elder Carl B. Cook – Liahona April 2016 ASEA edition, pg A2