How to Call Ourselves
My favorite judge retired a few months ago. He was always kind to everyone, and he treated everyone with respect. When he first arrived, before I had ever met him, everyone always said, “The new judge, Judge So-and-so, is just so…nice.” And it was true. It wasn’t an act. He was fair-minded, but also warm-hearted. He oozed love. He never lorded his authority over claimants or attorneys, and he had empathy toward my clients. I represent people who suffer from severe illnesses, and he always made sure that they felt heard. When I ran into him in the cafeteria, I observed that he treated the cafeteria staff with the same respect as he treated everyone else. When someone asked me what this judge was like, all I could think of was “That man is a Christian.”
He never said a single word about religion; it would have been inappropriate for him to do so in the courtroom. But I knew. Shortly after he retired, I was talking with another lawyer about how when I grow up to be a judge, I want to be like Judge So-and-so. The other lawyer told me that Judge So-and-so’s robe that he wears in court is his church choir robe. This was a charming story that fits so well with his personality, and it confirmed my previous assessment of him. He is a Christian. And I knew it because of the love he showed for his fellow humans.
Which leads me to the point of this post. I’m a bit late to the party, but there have been many pixels spilled about how President Nelson doesn’t want us to call ourselves “Mormon” anymore because it doesn’t do enough to emphasize the name of Jesus Christ, and we need to tell the world that we’re Christians. We’ll probably hear at least two or three talks on the subject at the upcoming General Conference.
One of the first rules of persuasion is “show, don’t tell”. So, if we really want the world to know that we’re Christian, instead of harping on what people call us, we should focus on behaving like followers of Jesus should behave. We should be known for being loving. If we have a choice between being inclusive and being exclusive, we should be inclusive. If we have a choice between giving someone the benefit of the doubt or being judgmental, we should give someone the benefit of the doubt. We should, as the saints covenanted to do so at the waters of Mormon, “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; … mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” Mosiah 18:8-9.
That is how people will know that we follow Jesus Christ. No matter what people call us.