Newly-called apostle Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong, spoke on loving like Jesus and “covenant belonging” at the closing session of BYU Women’s Conference on May 4.
Sister Gong shared three observations about the way Jesus loves people: by using discernment, by offering compassion and by succoring them.
Through discernment, Sister Gong said Christ knew Nathaniel was without guile, Nicodemus truly sought understanding and Peter — “impetuous, hopeful, vulnerable, two-steps-forward-one-step-back Peter” — was capable of leading the church.
She encouraged audience members to apply discernment in their ministering efforts; however, if anyone feels they do not have “that incredible gift of discernment,” Sister Gong said they must learn to listen. This means both becoming distanced from distractions such as electronics and to-do lists and listening to the Holy Ghost.
Sister Gong continued that the second way Christ loves people is through compassion, which always accompanies his perfect understanding of people’s hearts. For everyone else, though, “imagination and intention” are required for understanding another’s situation.
However, “when we have compassion — true empathy — something wondrous happens. We begin to know how to help,” she said.
Sister Gong said the third way Christ loves people is by succoring them. Having felt all their fears and pains, he responds to the specific needs of each suffering person, binding up their wounds like the Good Samaritan. His church is like the inn where people care for each other until the master returns.
“Know the heart. Feel compassion. Bless,” Sister Gong said. “This is the Savior’s pattern of ministering and it can be ours.”
Following his wife, Elder Gong tied the Women’s Conference theme of “Strengthen One Another in the Lord” to the strengthening power of covenants. Since covenants connect people to God and to each other, they allow people to love their brothers and sisters as God does.
“By divine covenant, we belong to God and to each other,” Elder Gong said, continuing that “covenant belonging” is a miracle that is not possessive, liberates through commitment and has the attributes of charity and love. It also means keeping the faith and not giving up on ourselves, on each other or on God.
Elder Gong recognized that though not every situation is ideal and not everyone keeps their covenants, “there is comfort, peace and hope in the Lord’s assurance that worthy individuals will receive all promised blessings.” He also spoke on using the Atonement in coming to Christ and escaping “the always-anxious treadmill of perfectionism.”
After sharing stories of “covenant belonging” families ministering to each other, Elder Gong testified of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, temples, prophets and the Book of Mormon. He also assured the audience that the Lord knows each of their hopes, concerns and joys.
Concluding his remarks he said, “We may each come to know our Savior better and become even more like him, as we are strengthened in the Lord, and as we strengthen each other in the Lord and his love.”