President Dieter F. Uchtdorf asked Latter-day Saints across the globe to “focus on ‘the simplicity that is in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 11:3) and allow His grace to lift and carry us during our journey from where we are right now to our glorious destiny in our Father’s presence.
“As we do so, and someone will ask us, ‘How is being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints working for you?’ we will be able to say with pride, in all humility, and with great joy, 'It works wonderfully!' ”
President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, offered the first address of the Saturday morning session of the Church’s 185th Semiannual General Conference.
At the beginning of his address, he noted that the Church is saddened by the sight of three empty places — left by the deaths of President Boyd K. Packer, Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Richard G. Scott — on the stand.
“During this conference weekend, we will be privileged to sustain three who have been called by the Lord to take their place among the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” he said. “Our prayers on their behalf will strengthen them as they bear the sacred mantle of apostleship.”
President Uchtdorf said not long ago he saw a quote that made him stop and think. “It went like this: ‘Tell a man there are trillions of stars in the universe, and he’ll believe you. Tell him there’s wet paint on the wall and he’ll touch it just to be sure.’”
President Uchtdorf asked Church members: “Aren’t we all a little bit like this?”
He said after a recent medical procedure, his capable doctors explained what he needed to do to heal properly. “But first I had to relearn something about myself I should have known for a long time: as a patient, I’m not very patient. Consequently I decided to expedite the healing process by undertaking my own Internet search. It took me a little while before I realized the irony of what I was doing. Of course, researching things for ourselves is not a bad idea. But I was disregarding truth I could rely on and instead found myself being drawn to the often-outlandish claims of Internet lore.”
President Uchtdorf said sometimes the truth may just seem too straightforward, too plain, and too simple for Latter-day Saints to fully appreciate its great value. “So we set aside what we have experienced and know to be true in pursuit of more mysterious or complicated information. Hopefully we will learn quickly that when we chase after shadows we are pursuing matters that have little substance and value.”
President Uchtdorf asked: “When it comes to spiritual truth, how can we know that we are on the right path?”
One way, he explained, is by asking the right questions.
“Profound questions regarding the purpose of life have led many individuals and families throughout the world to search for the truth. Often that search has led them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to the restored gospel.”
President Uchtdorf said Church members might also benefit from asking: “Is my experience in the Church working for me? Is it bringing me closer to Christ? Is it blessing me and my family with peace and joy as promised in the gospel?”
Many members, he said, will answer that their experience as a member of the Church is working exceptionally well for them. “They will testify that whether during times of poverty or prosperity, whether things are pleasant or painful, they find great meaning, peace, and joy because of their commitment to the Lord and their dedicated service in the Church. Every day, I meet Church members who are filled with a radiant joy and who demonstrate in word and in deed that their lives are immeasurably enriched by the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
But, President Uchtdorf said, he also recognizes that there are some who have a less-than-fulfilling experience — who feel that their membership in the Church sometimes isn’t quite what they had hoped for.
“This saddens me, because I know firsthand how the gospel can invigorate and renew one’s spirit — how it can fill our hearts with hope and our minds with light. I know for myself how the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ can transform lives from the ordinary and dreary to the extraordinary and sublime.”
Why, he asked, is it that the gospel works better for some than for others?
First, he said: “Are we making our discipleship too complicated?”
“This beautiful gospel is so simple a child can grasp it, yet so profound and complex that it will take a lifetime — even an eternity — of study and discovery to fully understand it.
“But sometimes we take the beautiful lily of God’s truth and gild it with layer upon layer of man-made good ideas, programs, and expectations. Each one, by itself, might be helpful and appropriate for a certain time and circumstance, but when they are laid on top of each other, they can create a mountain of sediment that becomes so thick and heavy that we risk losing sight of that precious flower we once loved so dearly.”
Therefore, he said, Church leaders must strictly protect the Church and the gospel in its purity and plainness and avoid putting unnecessary burdens on members.
“And all of us, as members of the Church, we need to make a conscientious effort to devote our energy and time to the things that truly matter, while uplifting our fellowmen and building the kingdom of God.”
For example, one sister, a Relief Society instructor, was known for preparing flawless lessons. One time, she decided to create a beautiful quilt that would serve as the perfect backdrop to the theme of her lesson. The night before her lesson, she did not sleep much as she worked all night on the quilt. The next day she was exhausted and barely able to organize her thoughts, but she bravely stood and delivered her perfect lesson.
“And the quilt was stunning — the stitches were perfect, the colors vibrant, and the design intricate. And at the center of it all was a single word that triumphantly echoed the theme of her lesson: ‘Simplify.’”
Living the gospel doesn’t need to be complicated, President Uchtdorf said.
“Brothers and sisters, if you ever think that the gospel isn’t working so well for you, I invite you to step back, look at your life from a higher plane, and simplify your approach to discipleship. Focus on the basic doctrines, principles, and applications of the gospel. I promise that God will guide and bless you on your path to a fulfilling life, and the gospel will definitely work better for you.”
Second, President Uchtdorf asked members to start where they are.
“Sometimes we feel discouraged because we are not more of something — more spiritual, respected, intelligent, healthy, rich, friendly, or capable. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve. God created us to grow and progress. But remember, our weaknesses can help us to be humble and turn us to Christ who will ‘make weak things become strong.’ (Ether 12:27). Satan, on the other hand, uses our weaknesses to the point that we are discouraged from even trying.”
President Uchtdorf told Church members they don’t need to be more of anything to start to become the person God intended them to become.
“God will take you as you are at this very moment and begin to work with you. All you need is a willing heart, a desire to believe, and trust in the Lord.”
When Church members look at themselves through mortal eyes, they may not see themselves as good enough, he said. “But our Heavenly Father sees us as who we truly are and who we can become. He sees us as His sons and daughters, as beings of eternal light with everlasting potential and with a divine destiny.”
Exaltation is our goal; discipleship is our journey, he said.
“As you exercise a little faith and begin your walk as a peaceable follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, your heart will change. Your whole being will be filled with light.
“God will help you become something greater than you ever thought possible. And you will discover that the gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed working in your life.”
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