Mortal life: a time to find, serve, know Jesus Christ

Full text of Bishop Burton's fireside address

PROVO, Utah — This mortal life is the time for Church members to find, serve and know Jesus and the principles He taught, said Presiding Bishop H. David Burton Jan. 9.

"I am convinced that we can find, know and experience the tender, perfect love of Jesus of Nazareth as we serve Him by serving our fellowmen, said Bishop Burton.

Speaking at a Church Educational System fireside, Bishop Burton addressed more than 12,000 college-age young adults gathered in the BYU Marriott Center. Thousands more heard the fireside address live, via satellite, throughout North, Central and South America. The broadcast, which was translated into 22 languages, will also be made available on videotape to institute students around the world.

During his address, "The Living Water of Jesus Christ," Bishop Burton recalled a popular song from his youth. The lyric from the song, "What the World Needs Now," by Rosemary Clooney, proclaimed that "the world needs love, sweet love."

"To that beautiful line of lyric I add: What the world needs now is love, sweet love, for the 'good news' of Jesus Christ," said Bishop Burton. "Certainly, if we allow the gospel of our Savior and Redeemer to penetrate our souls, there will be no need to be concerned with forecasts of further declines in values and morals. There will be no poor among us. We will have confidence and faith in those who represent us in government. In fact, values and morality will be celestial."

Bishop Burton quoted from a recent magazine article in which a man who was seriously injured in an accident wrote that during the ordeal he never saw Jesus Christ. The author labeled as a fairy tale the idea that a benign God created the human race and watches over it.

In a subsequent issue of the magazine, Bishop Burton read the reply of one reader who noted that the man should have seen Jesus in the scores of people that helped him after the accident. Another reader noted: "One cannot expect to find Christ in death if one has not known Him in life."

"We know our loving Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ, most often minister to our needs through the efforts of typical, garden-variety people like you and me," said Bishop Burton. "We too often look for dramatic, divine intervention in our lives and lose sight of Jesus in the crowd of marvelous, kind, thoughtful and generous people who live the principles of the gospel of Him who is our Savior and Redeemer."

Bishop Burton noted that over the centuries, people have been introduced to the Savior in many different ways.

"Many have come to know Christ as they have been exposed to the written testaments of Book of Mormon prophets. Still others are extended introductions by the legions of missionaries who labor with devotion. Neighbors feel the Savior's presence as their souls are softened by the kindly deeds of others. Caregivers come to feel the warm glow of the gospel of Jesus as they unselfishly minister, often for extended periods, to the needs of family members and friends. For some, crises and disasters encourage them to reach for the security blanket offered by Him who offers perfect consolation.

"For most people the discovery of Jesus comes by the method He authored Himself: 'If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine' (John 7:17), and 'seek me diligently and ye shall find me' (D&C 88:63).

Bishop Burton said early in His ministry, the Savior met a Samaritan woman at a well (John 4:7-16). He told the woman of living water, saying to her, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

Bishop Burton noted that the living water, freely offered by Jesus Christ, can end the drought that plagues mankind today.

"As His disciples, we are the primary distribution system for delivering the living water from its everlasting source to His cherished children in need. We largely determine who will receive the water as we, by our service, control the irrigation system headgates. We preserve the purity of the water as we reflect to the world the value of the living water in our own lives. If we irrigate when the living water is required, rather than when it is convenient for us, we determine its vitality. It is only the living water of Jesus Christ that can and will bring a happy, successful and everlasting life to the children of men."

Bishop Burton noted that during His ministry, Jesus often used parables to convey a moral or spiritual truth. "The short stories used real scenes or events which occur in nature or human life. Jesus' parables depicted true-life situations and have a vigorous moral and religious application. Understanding of parables comes with some contemplation.

"Jesus was not argumentative. His teachings were delivered with the strength of plainness and simplicity."

Bishop Burton then recounted a modern parable: "The Parable of the Shopper."

In the parable a woman gets on a crowded bus with several packages. She sits by a passenger who comments that he wishes more gifts were received in the same spirit they are given. "To reject a thoughtful gift is to reject the loving sentiment of the giver," the passenger told the woman.

Then the bus passenger, explained Bishop Burton, listed numerous gifts from the Savior: the gift of example, the gift of repentance, the gift of love, the gift of salvation and the gift of eternal life.

"How we receive these gifts, these precious gifts from the Babe of Bethlehem, is the telling point," said Bishop Burton. "Are we exchangers? Is there really anything else we would rather have? Is there a feature missing? It is what we do with the gift long after we have opened it that shows our appreciation. Have we used it, worn it, displayed it, or cherished it?"

Bishop Burton said there are many people in the world who desperately need the living water of Jesus, the Christ, to nourish their souls, but do not realize it.

"May we enthusiastically respond to the needs of the downtrodden, rejoice in the repentant soul, magnify and use our talents to bless lives, identify with the hungry and bring peace to the sinner. May we be worthy vessels to represent Him in doing unto the least of our brothers and sisters that which He Himself would do were He now here."