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Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Teaching about the 2023 youth theme ‘All things through Christ’

What did the apostle Paul mean when he wrote ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’?

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Youth study the scriptures together. The youth theme for 2023 is “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Teaching about the 2023 youth theme ‘All things through Christ’

What did the apostle Paul mean when he wrote ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’?

seminary.png

Youth study the scriptures together. The youth theme for 2023 is “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The youth theme for 2023 is “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). It is a powerful doctrine. However, if leaders and parents are not careful, this scripture can easily be misinterpreted.

Recently I asked two teachers in religious education at Brigham Young University for their advice about teaching the theme.

What the apostle Paul was teaching

Ryan Sharp, assistant teaching professor in ancient scripture, said: “This statement has inspired and motivated countless athletes, musicians and others in their efforts to succeed. In fact, you may have seen this scriptural reference on basketball shoes, baseball gloves, guitars and study notes for a final exam. Perhaps they think faith in Christ is a guarantee they will never lose or fail. However, that may not be exactly what the apostle Paul was teaching in his epistle.

“When Paul penned this phrase to the saints in Philippi, he was not thriving in his own personal life. We become aware of his ups and downs as we read the verses before 13: ‘For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need’ (Philippians 4:11-12). Paul is, at least in part, explaining that although he has experienced times of success, he has also known moments of failure. Times of thriving and times of struggle. He is saying that he knows what it is like when life is going well and everything seems to be falling into place, but he also knows the pains of disappointment, loneliness and desperate need. And yet through it all he wrote, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13, emphasis added).

“Even when things are hard — indeed especially when things are hard — Christ’s power can infuse us with strength, comfort and healing. President Russell M. Nelson testified: ‘God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son to help us. And His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for us. All so that we could have access to godly power — power sufficient to deal with the burdens, obstacles and temptations of our day’ (‘Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ Into Our Lives,’ April 2017 general conference).”

2023 youth theme

The 2023 youth theme comes from Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The visual of the rock cairn

Casey Griffiths, associate teaching professor in Church history and doctrine, said it is important for all of God’s children, but especially young people, to know that the Savior has already walked the path of mortality and understands trials and left behind markers to help along the way: “I love that the visual for our theme [in 2023] is a rock cairn. When a person is out hiking often they will see that park rangers or other hikers will place small cairns of rocks to mark the path forward. If the trail became difficult to see, you could always find these cairns so that you would know you are on the right track. A lot of fear and anxiety over getting lost is relieved because these thoughtful hikers left a marker for you.

“In the same way the Savior has left guides for us so that we don’t become lost on the pathways of mortality. Sometimes the markers left for us are the lives of our friends and loved ones who have made good choices through living the commandments. Sometimes the markers are the teachings of the men and women the Lord has called to lead His Church.

“One of the most important markers is the very words and deeds of Jesus Christ recorded in ancient and modern scripture. Christ doesn’t remove us from the path or make the path easy because we need the journey to grow spiritually and become the people we are meant to be, but He can strengthen us to climb the hills we need to climb, and His perfect life marks the path that we all need to take to find Him again. It can become easy to feel lost in the wilderness of our lives with all the different voices pulling us in different directions, enticing us to wander off the path. But the markers left by the Savior and His disciples show us the true way to joy in this life and eternal life where we can live again with our heavenly parents. He is cheering for us to succeed in our journey and help others find the right path as well.

“Attending Church meetings, seminary and For the Strength of Youth conferences are great ways for us to learn what these markers look like, how to use them in our journey, or to get back on the covenant path if we have wandered away.” 

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