Latter-day Saints, by virtue of who they are, ought to be the best people in the world, President Gordon B. Hinckley declared at the Sandy Utah Central Regional Conference Jan. 25.
He spoke in two general sessions of the six-stake conference in the Salt Lake Tabernacle."You have taken upon yourselves the name of the Lord Jesus Christ," President Hinckley reminded the congregation gathered for the first session. "You have covenanted to keep His commandments. You pray through Him to the Father. You ask the Father to bless you to do His will, to help you to live right. I hope that when you get off your knees and stand on your feet that you do so as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
The Church leader spoke of plans whereby thousands of Baptists will converge in Salt Lake City in June. "They are going to try to convert you," he said. "I don't know how they'll make out. I hope no one here is wobbly in his faith. I don't think so. I hope you will treat them very kindly and very graciously and not argue with them. It won't do a bit of good."
Regarding the notion that members of the Church are not Christian, "I would dispute that, very seriously," he declared. "We are Christians. We're followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. . . ."
Quoting Peter as saying, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light," (1 Pet. 2:9) President Hinckley said that statement is prophetic.
"Do you ever get on your knees and thank the Lord with great depth of gratitude that He has permitted you to come to earth in this day and time as a part of this great chosen generation?" he asked. "What a wonderful time it is to be alive . . . in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times."
Speaking to the brethren in the congregation, President Hinckley asked, "Are you worthy of the priesthood which you hold? Are you worthy of this divine investiture which is yours? Do you live up to it? Do you love it? Do you safeguard it? Are you worthy of it in every respect?
He warned that no man who abuses his wife or his children is worthy of the priesthood of God with its divine endowment of power.
The phrase "an holy nation," he said, refers today to a vast congregation of people. "We have become a vast congregation of people, 10 million strong. We have become a great holy nation, a vast congregation of followers of the Son of God, members of His Church which carries His sacred name. What a wonderful thing to be a Latter-day Saint."
Speaking of being a peculiar people, President Hinckley said, "Of course, we're peculiar. We don't do a lot of things that some others do." He then enumerated that Latter-day Saints don't smoke or drink. They pay tithing, build meetinghouses and temples, do work for the dead and send out missionaries. "I hope we will always be a peculiar people," he declared.
In the second session, President Hinckley gave words of counsel and encouragement. He announced that he was going to "talk in a very straightforward way about us - you and me - you fathers, you mothers, you husbands, you wives, you young people, you children - about us."
"The Lord has been so kind to us," he said. He noted that in some parts of the world there are difficulties, uprisings and conflicts. "We have peace here," he said. "What a blessing is peace. Isn't it a marvelous thing that war is not among us at this time."
He said that everyone has problems - mortgage payments and interest rates are too high; some are sick or old. Some who are single wish they were married, and some who are married wish they were not. "We have all of these problems to deal with, and they get possession of us," he said. "We dwell on them, but let's stop and think once in a while of the marvelous blessings that we enjoy.
"How could we be a more favored people than we are? How could the Lord bless us more richly than He has done? We are the beneficiaries of this great age in which we live, this wonderful age. We are the beneficiaries of the prospering hand of the Lord upon us. We are the beneficiaries of the light and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is our greatest and wonderful possession. The Lord has been so kind.
"Now, in response to that goodness to us, in response to that kindness, He expects much of us. We are not ordinary people. We have taken upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. We have covenanted to keep His commandments. We are not an ordinary people. We have been blessed in an extraordinary way but, unfortunately, many of us drift in the direction of the world, and we seem to like it."
President Hinckley spoke briefly of "what the Lord expects of us." He said, "I believe as members of His true and great and marvelous Church, He expects every one of us to be Latter-day Saints in the full meaning of that word - people who love the Lord and know Him, and seek to emulate His life and do His will. We won't get very close to it as hard as we try, so wondrous was His life, but we can make the effort. I would hope that every man, woman and child here today would go home with a resolution in his or her heart to try to be a better Latter-day Saint. He expects us to show love of God by the way we conduct our lives."
President Hinckley said, "As King Benjamin explains, when we love our neighbors we show our love for God. I think He expects that of us.
"I think that He expects us, as those who have taken upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to walk in His ways and try to follow the pattern of His life, to go the second mile, to live the golden rule."
President Hinckley gave counsel to each group of members assembled, to the youth and adults, children and parents.
"Let us live up to the expectation of the Lord," he urged. "He expects us to be good neighbors, even to those who are not members of the Church, perhaps especially to those who are not members of the Church, to reach out, to help them, to assist them, to bless their lives."
President Hinckley quoted the Relief Society motto, "Charity never faileth." He commended the Relief Society members "who do such vast good as part of their tremendous program."
"I want to say to each of us that we can't institutionalize everything in the Church. We sometimes do that. We say that we will give something to the welfare program and that will take care of it. We have got to do a little more ourselves personally and individually. We can help others who stand in need of help and do it in a discreet and wonderful manner."