BYU assistant academic vice president encourages students to pay costs of discipleship

Reid Neilson, assistant academic vice president for religious scholarly publications, speaks at BYU’s campus devotional on Aug. 8. Neilson talked about the known and unknown costs of discipleship. (Joe Wirthlin)

Reid Neilson, assistant academic vice president for religious scholarly publications, spoke about the known and unknown costs of discipleship in his devotional address on Aug. 8.

Neilson said the choices individuals make today will change the contours of their lives as well as the lives of their posterity. Those choices include whether or not they continue to follow Jesus Christ.

Neilson recounted a sermon given by the Savior, recorded in Luke 14. He said the sermon cautions followers of Jesus Christ to consider the costs that would come from following the Savior.

“I have learned that the Lord doesn’t necessarily want our time, talents and earthly possessions,” Neilson said. “He wants our hearts, our minds and our wills, because His infinite wisdom allows Him to do so much more with them than we can ourselves.”

Throughout his address, Neilson quoted Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Maxwell said there are “warm and cuddly doctrines” in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but there are also “wintery doctrines.” Such doctrines are the ones that followers of Jesus Christ might not know about when they choose to follow Him.

Neilson said the apostle Peter did not know all that he would be required to do when the Savior first invited him to follow Him. Peter went willingly, but required additional testing and trying of his faith. The Savior asked Peter four questions while Peter: “Wherefore didst thou doubt“, “will ye also go away“, “whom say ye that I am” and “lovest thou Me more than these?

“The Savior employs the same pattern of questioning with each of us today,” Neilson said. “He checks in with each of us, often in times of great stress and anxiety, and especially when he invites us to learn of the ‘wintery doctrines’ Elder Maxwell mentioned.”

Neilson shared a story about his time serving as a mission president. His missionaries were stuck inside during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of the missionaries’ families were saying they did not sign up for such conditions.

Neilson’s wife was inspired to bring the issue before the missionaries themselves, asking them what they did sign up for. He said the missionaries concluded that choosing to serve a mission meant they signed up to trust in the Lord, follow his prophet, invite others to come unto Christ and endure faithfully to the end.

Sister Neilson then presented missionaries with stickers that said, “this is exactly what I signed up for,” which the missionaries could place around their apartments to remind them of their commitment to “pay the costs of discipleship.”

“I’m regularly reminded that just as there are known and unknown costs, there are also anticipated and unanticipated blessings that far surpass any cost we are asked to pay,” Neilson said. “I am grateful for a patient Savior who allows me to count and recount the costs of my discipleship.”

Neilson concluded his remarks by asking those in attendance the same questions that Jesus Christ asked Peter, encouraging them to count the costs of their discipleship.

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