1 And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. (emphasis added)
I remember talking about that in gospel lessons, seminary, and etc., but didn't really think much of it. As I get older, however, I am feeling this situation hit close to home.
More and more, I almost feel surprised and excited to hear that an old friend that I come in contact with is still "...[my brother] in the Lord." I am noticing friends and acquaintances fall away from the teachings and lifestyle of the LDS church. They do it for various reasons, and I'll never understand their unique situations. However, it saddens me to see and learn of these personal apostasies, regardless of the reason (e.g., offense, addiction, doctrine, laziness).
I've noticed this with coworkers, mission companions and buddies, converts, people in my last ward, classmates from high school and BYU, family members, etc. I almost get the sense that my circle / network of stalwart and faithful members of the LDS church is shrinking, making it all the more important to make sure my own foundation is solid.
Every time I hear of one of these apostasies, it causes me to do some introspection. I run through their assumed scenario in my head and wonder how I would have responded, or what got them to the point where they decide, "You know what? I'm done with this. I'm quitting church." In all cases, I've felt the very personal and strong reminder that the course I've chosen to follow -- dedicated discipleship -- is still the right path. I can say that without any doubt and hope this same tender mercy / reminder comes to each of us as we face these sorts of challenges. Hold to the rod!