Sacrifice remains a key component in the gospel plan, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve as he addressed the Saturday morning session of conference.
"The incomprehensible suffering of Jesus Christ ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood, but it did not end the importance of sacrifice in the gospel plan," he said. Our Savior, continues to require us to offer sacrifices, but the sacrifices He now commands are that we offer 'a broken heart and a contrite spirit' (3 Nephi 9:20). He also commands each of us to love and serve one another — in effect to offer a small imitation of His own sacrifice by making sacrifices of our own time and selfish priorities."
Elder Oaks then went on to speak of the mortal sacrifices the Savior asks His followers to make.
The Christian faith has a history of those who offered the ultimate sacrifice — their own lives — in defense of their faith, he noted. "For most followers of Christ, our sacrifices involve what we can do on a day-to-day basis in our ordinary personal lives. In this experience, I know of no group whose members make more sacrifices than Latter-day Saints. Their sacrifices — your sacrifices, my brothers and sisters — stand in contrast to the familiar worldly quest for personal fulfillment."
The experience of the Mormon pioneers represents an epic sacrifice of lives, family relationships, homes and comforts that are at the foundation of the restored gospel, Elder Oaks said. Further, he said that the most visible strength of the Church today is the unselfish service and sacrifice of its members and that their lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of their commitment to serve the Master and their fellowmen.
Elder Oaks noted that lay members have been called to lead and serve in thousands of congregations across the world. The Church is not alone in having lay members serve as teachers and lay leaders, he said. "But the amount of time donated by our members to train and minister to one another is uniquely large. Our efforts to have each family in our congregation visited by home teachers each month and to have each adult woman visited by Relief Society visiting teachers each month are examples of this," pointed out.
Missionaries are the best known example of service and sacrifice in the Church, he said. "Their work always involves sacrifice, including the years they give to the work of the Lord and also the sacrifices made in providing funds for their support."
Other sacrifices resulting from missionary service, he added, are the sacrifices of those who act on the teachings of the missionaries and become members. For many, he said, such sacrifices include the loss of friends and family associations.
He said sacrifices are also being made through faithful temple service.
"Perhaps the most familiar and most important examples of unselfish service and sacrifice are performed in our families," said Elder Oaks. Many also demonstrate unselfishness by adopting children — including those with special needs — and by providing for foster children, he said.
Sacrifices of time and means, he concluded, are part of one's schooling and qualifying for eternity. "Just as the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is at the center of the plan of salvation, we followers of Christ must make our own sacrifices to prepare for the destiny that plan provides for us," he declared.