Being a Saint, Becoming a Disciple
By Eleanor Cook
For many, the term saint denotes a person who has an exceptional closeness to God or has in some way dedicated their life in an extraordinary way to God. They are people to be admired and as such in many Christian cultures are looked upon with the highest degree of respect, sometimes acting as a mediator between others and God.
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term saint still has many of the same connotations. Saints work to follow Jesus Christ. They serve as He did, giving aid to the needy. They study the scriptures and pray often. They attend church and serve in different capacities. For Latter-day Saints, I have found that the term saint refers to everyone who has made promises to God through baptism and keeps those and additional promises as members of His Church.
A saint is “one who follows Christ in holiness and devotion with a view fixed on eternal life. This is the commitment of a Latter-day Saint.”¹ Although we respect saints past and present, I understand that as Latter-day Saints, we don’t worship them. We only worship God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ.
So what does a saint in the latter days look like? In 2 Nephi 26:33 we read: “and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” As I ponder the truths of this scripture, it is clear to me that everyone is invited to be a disciple of Christ.
Being a disciple of Christ is not influenced by social, economic, or cultural backgrounds. Instead, I have come to find that there are some practical things that apply to all those trying to become disciples of Christ:²
- Having faith
- Being humble and having the desire to communicate with God, to seek council from Him, and then to act on that guidance
- Seeking sincerely for answers, trusting that you will receive a response (Matthew 7:7)
- Serving others
- Attending church
- Strengthening the family
- Demonstrating gratitude
- Staying worthy to enter the temple and keeping the promises we have made with God
- Embracing the gospel of Christ
In addition, disciples of Christ try and develop His attributes and become more like Him. “Many people hear the word disciple and think it means only “follower.” But I have come to know that genuine discipleship is a state of being. This, to me, suggests more than studying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.”³
So it is no wonder that the saints throughout history have been admired by many, or that they have been recognized as extraordinary. It requires work to be a saint, a disciple of Jesus Christ. But it is not impossible. All are invited to become disciples of Jesus Christ. And the best news of all is that we are not invited to do it alone.
We learn in Ephesians 4:11-12 that prophets, apostles, teachers, and others were given for “the perfecting of the Saints.” From this, we can learn that we must continually work to improve. We also learn that God has given us a Church to help us improve. The Church is quite literally a place where imperfect people work together to provide help, support, and guidance as we collectively try and draw nearer to Christ. He has given us prophets and apostles, to guide us and lead us in the right direction.
And if all that wasn’t enough, Jesus Christ Himself has promised that He will help us. I have found through my personal study that we actually can’t become saints or disciples of Christ without His help. As we exercise faith in Him and become better people daily through repentance, I know we can become better disciples of Jesus Christ.
Being a saint is worth it! As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I can say that there is nothing better than to gather together with other followers of Jesus Christ as we work to sustain and support each other on a path of discipleship toward the Savior. As I go about daily life, my identity as one of Christ’s disciples does not change. In fact, it influences my every decision. I am not perfect. But thanks to Christ, I need only be perfect in trying.
So join us, come to church, and message this page to discover more about how you can become a disciple of Christ through the Savior’s help and the support of other saints trying to do the same. God loves you!
¹ Bangerter, Wm Grant. 1987, “What it means to be a Saint”
² Uchtdorf, Dieter F. 2012 “How to be a disciple of Christ”
³Hales, Robert D. 2017 “Becoming a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ”