This weekend was once again the semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a wonderful experience, watching hours of our spiritual leaders teaching us and expounding upon the gospel of Christ.
I posted yesterday my thoughts and a brief summary of my impressions from the first day of Conference. I had a great time following #ldsconf on Twitter again, seeing not only people tweeting and retweeting the words of the Prophets and Apostles, but also their reactions and insights.
I was particularly impressed by something President Uchtdorf said during Saturday Morning’s session. He asked the following question:
Why would anyone want to join this church?
I would like to frame my response to this question. It is a great question for every member to consider, thinking about their own conversion and how they would answer this question to those they are trying to share the gospel with those around them.
I join this Church because this is the church of Jesus Christ, restored through a prophet in our day. The story of Joseph Smith is both the foundation of our Church, but also an example to all who wish to know if it is true. Just a Joseph Smith, we must have the desire to know what church is true, which church to join. And we should follow his example and study the scriptures, the word of God, where we will see that God’s promises are for all of his children, that he will answer prayers and give wisdom to those who honestly seek for it. And we must do as the scriptures direct and ask of God, ask him what he would have us do with our lives, what church he has sanctioned and ordained as his.
I join this Church because I have done exactly that. I have prayed and asked for myself if it is the church of Jesus Christ -I have followed the example of Joseph Smith. I have read the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the power of God. That is one of the most obvious fruits of his labors, a fruit we can heft and read and examine to see if Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. And, again, at the end of that book is the great promise of God, “When ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these are not true.“ I have read and studied the Book of Mormon and felt the influence of the Holy Spirit confirming that it teaches of Jesus Christ and his gospel. And I have prayed and asked God and again felt the confirmation of the Spirit that the Book of Mormon is true, is a book of scripture, inspired by God. And when the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, who translated that book by divine power. And when Joseph Smith is a prophet, then he is what he said he was, and when he spoke prophetically and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he was acting as a prophet under the direction of God.
But, it is not just the foundation of the Church that has strengthened my testimony of it. I join this Church because I have seen the way it functions in my life, because it brings happiness to my family and me. Prophets and Apostles have long promised happiness and blessings to those who follow the commandments of God.
It is difficult to live up to all of the commandments but the eternal reward is worth everything. When one really studies the gospel of Christ, one sees that there is really only one commandment – “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48). All other commandments are only there to help us achieve that great goal. God gives us these commandments to help us become as he is, to avoid those things that detract from that goal. I am developing a wonderful personal relationship with my Father in heaven, striving to be what he wants me to be.
And so, I join this church because I see how it helps me achieve my goal of becoming like my Father in heaven. The priesthood power and authority of God that has been restored in this church allows us to make and keep covenants with our Father that prepare us to return to his presence and live in his kingdom.
But, please, do not just take my word for it, as the great LeVar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow. That is one of the greatest aspects of this church, as I have stated, we are all invited and commanded to read, study, ponder, and pray about this church and ask God for ourselves if it is true Please, come and see. Come to our meetings, read and study our materials, both in the Book of Mormon and at Mormon.org and LDS.org. Ask the Missionaries, they are there to answer your questions.
On an almost completely unrelated note, I did read one tweet during General Conference that I wanted to respond to, but did not feel that I could adequately do so within the 140 character limit of Twitter.
@AequatioDei tweets “Ask yourself, “what would Jesus tweet” about the millions of $ spent on the Gilbert Temple, while millions of needy suffer.“
He does not understand temples and the importance of temple work from an eternal perspective to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yes, temples are worth that much because of what is done and learned there. In temples we draw closer to our Father in heaven, we make sacred covenants with him that allow us to learn more about our relationship with him and with our fellow man. And we take part in Priesthood ordinances, such as the sealing of families together for time and all eternity, allowing families to be together forever. This is a concept that many people innately want to believe in, based on conversations I have had with many people. We have this innate belief that we will be with our families in heaven, that we will see them again. But, I am not aware of any other Church that teaches that as official doctrine, or provides the means necessary to make it so. In our temples that is what we do — we join families together.
Also, he does not understand the Church’s welfare program. We do indeed spend millions to help alleviate the suffering of millions of needy. The Church has an extensive welfare program, helping needy people both here in the US and abroad. After any major natural disaster, the Church is one of the first organizations on the scene with man-power and goods necessary to alleviate the suffering of those affected.
It is not an either/or situation. We take care of the physical body as well as the spiritual body. But to be honest, from an eternal perspective the temple is more important because it is longer lasting in its effects. It is indeed important to help clothe and feed and care for the physical bodies of all of God’s children. It is difficult to focus on spiritual things when one is worried about where the next meal is coming from or where one will spend the night. But, we also know that the spiritual welfare of the souls of God’s children is important in eternity. This life and its suffering are only temporary, and all of the injustices of this life can and will be made up through the Atonement of Christ.
I love this gospel, and I love the uplifting spiritual messages we heard this weekend. I know I will discover more meaning and joy as I study these messages again and again with my family over the next six months, and I invite and encourage you all to do the same. Come listen to a prophet’s voice, and hear the word of God.
- General Conference October 2013 – Saturday Sessions Summary (dteeps.wordpress.com)