This past May I was given the opportunity to talk in sacrament meeting about how to share our testimonies using social media. It’s a bit of a strange topic, but I had a lot of fun with it. I thought I’d share, via the internet, some of the things I shared in church, kind of bring the whole thing full circle. I don’t really write talks though, just outlines. So this won’t be as conversational as the talk was, but it’ll get you the main idea. So, here we go.
I taught computers in an elementary school after graduating with two of my main topics being keyboarding skills and internet safety. I could give a class about internet safety and how to use different media, but that would be more appropriate in a setting other than the sacred Sacrament meeting. With that said, Brett and I met online, so I might be a bit biased toward the blessings that we have through social media and technology. One of the main reasons our relationship translated so well from virtual to reality was that who we are online was exactly who we are in person. I’ll come back to that later.
What Testimony Do We Share?
The October 2008 Friend had an article titled “Testimony Glove” that talks about the five basic parts to a testimony:
1. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us.
2. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer.
3. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. He restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.
4. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth today.
5. I know that this Church is led by a living prophet who receives revelation.
We do not always have to share all five of the basic parts of our testimony and we can elaborate on any part that we choose, but a testimony is no more complicated then that. Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Quorum of Seventy said “Although [a testimony] may begin with a single spiritual experience, they grow and develop over time through constant nourishment and frequent spiritual encounters” (“I Know These Things of Myself,” General Conference, October 2014). Sharing those spiritual experiences as prompted is also part of sharing our testimony.
How do you share your testimony?
We have a lot of different tools we can use to help us share our testimonies. Elder Mervyn B. Arnold reminded us that “The Lord has provided all of the tools necessary for us,” (“To the Rescue: We Can Do It,” General Conference, April 2016). And President Henry B. Eyring pointed out that, “By the miracle of modern technology, the separation of time and of vast distances vanishes. We meet as if we are all together in one great hall,” (“Where Two or Three Are Gathered,” General Conference, April 2016). Speaking of his wife, President Uchtdorf spoke of how she could always find “something inspirational, uplifting, or humorous to share. This often would lead to more in-depth discussions. … With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. … My dear young friends, perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to “open [your] mouths” might today include “use your hands” to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! … Brothers and sisters, with the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard not only around our workplace but around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity” (“Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” General Conference, April 2011). The Church also frequently suggests hastags for General Conference, CES devotionals, the Sabbath, etc. and creates beautiful memes, videos, graphics that can easily be shared in a variety of formats.
In addition, our very lives are our testimonies. When you bear testimony you share what you know to be true. It is so important to share your true self no matter what format you find yourself in. “Each member serves as a testimony of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ” (“The Reason for Our Hope,” Elder Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, October 2014). We have been told that we “are living evidence of the redeeming power of the Savior. We are living evidence of the ministry of the Prophet Joseph and the faithfulness of those early Saints who remained strong in their testimony” (“Look Up,” Elder Adrián Ochoa, General Conference, October 2013). And President Hinckley taught, “If we are to hold up this Church as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world, we must take on more of the luster of the life of Christ individually and in our own personal circumstances,” (“An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World,” General Conference, October 2003).
Going back to why my relationship with Brett worked out so well even though we spent a great deal of it early on over the internet, it was because we were our true selves there. More than once I’ve asked him if I’ve told him something online or in person because I am the same in both places and would say the same thing in both places. Whether it is in person or online there should be and needs to be no difference in how we live and share our testimony. Elder Bednar at a CES fireside emphasized “the importance of personal fidelity—the correspondence between an actual person and an assumed, cyberspace identity, (“Things as They Really Are,” CES fireside, May 3, 2009). Without that personal fidelity between in person and online we are bearing false witness of what we know to be true.
Why do we share our testimony?
It is important to recognize why we are sharing our testimony because that can influence what and how we are sharing. It has been said that “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Part of that nothing would be not sharing the good news and light that we have that the world needs. While I have shared my testimony in many instances where it has seemed like nothing I said made any difference, I can say, like Coach Yoast from the movie Remember the Titans, I “make sure they remember, forever, the [testimony I share]! Leave no doubt!” Or, to put it a bit more spiritually as Elder Ballard did, “The time has come when members of the Church need to speak out and join with the many other concerned people in opposition to the offensive, destructive, and mean-spirited media influence that is sweeping over the earth” (“Let Our Voices Be Heard,” General Conference, October 2003).
As we share our testimony it is important to remember that “there are times when the Lord reveals to us things that are intended only for us. Nevertheless, in many, many cases He entrusts a testimony of the truth to those who will share it with others. This has been the case with every prophet since the days of Adam. Even more, the Lord expects the members of His Church to ‘open [their mouths] at all times, declaring [His] gospel with the sound of rejoicing'” (“Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” President Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2011). In Matthew 7:6 we are told “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Share your testimony, but remember that when you share it online you are potentially sharing it with the entire world and they will be able to do with it as they will. Some aspects of our testimony are probably best shared in more intimate settings.
Whether we are online or in person we should remember that “the most effective way to preach the gospel is through example. If we live according to our beliefs, people will notice. If the countenance of Jesus Christ shines in our lives, if we are joyful and at peace with the world, people will want to know why. One of the greatest sermons ever pronounced on missionary work is this simple thought attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: ‘Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.’ Opportunities to do so are all around us” (“Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” President Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2011). President Hinckley said, “I believe and testify that it is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world. We have had placed upon us a great, all-encompassing mandate from which we cannot shrink nor turn aside. We accept that mandate and are determined to fulfill it, and with the help of God we shall do it” (“An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World,” General Conference, October 2003). Through the use of the internet each one of us can be that ensign to the nations, all the nations, and a light to the world, the whole world, in our own way.
The night before I gave this talk I told Iddo that I would be talking about Jesus the next day at church and I asked her what I should say about Jesus. She told me I should tell everyone that he helps people. “Does Jesus help you?” I asked. She enthusiastically replied, “Jesus helps everyone!”
I testify that Jesus will help us as we testify of him in word, in deed, in meme, and in hashtag.