Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered instruction and counsel for life’s challenges during the weekend’s 191st semiannual General Conference.
President Russell M. Nelson invited Church members to listen to the conference messages through the lenses of pure truth, the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ and pure revelation.
“Imagine how quickly the devastating conflicts throughout the world — and those in our individual lives — would be resolved if we all chose to follow Jesus Christ and heed His teachings,” President Nelson said.
President Nelson compared the ongoing renovations on the Salt Lake Temple to necessary actions in life to solidify one’s personal “spiritual foundations” in Christ amid the world’s contention today and still to come.
“Please believe me when I say that when your spiritual foundation is built solidly upon Jesus Christ, you have no need to fear,” President Nelson said.
For the first time since early 2020, conference sessions returned to the Conference Center at Temple Square, although in-person attendance was strictly limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Various general authorities in other parts of the world previously recorded their messages to be included within the broadcast.
Repentance and improvement
A number of speakers centered their remarks on the redemptive power of Christ’s Atonement to receive forgiveness from sin and grow to become better.
Brother Brad Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, said God desires to help His children through the repentance process no matter the circumstances in order to ultimately give love and blessings.
“Remember change is possible, repentance is a process, and worthiness is not flawlessness. Most important, remember that God and Christ are willing to help us right here and now,” Brother Wilcox said.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the opportunity to repent and be forgiven is a prime example of God’s love for His children, and that the Atonement is unconditional and infinite.
“Ours is not a religion of rationalization nor a religion of perfectionism, but a religion of redemption — redemption through Jesus Christ. If we are among the penitent, by His Atonement, our sins are nailed to His cross and we are forgiven and healed,” Elder Christofferson said.
Elder Michael A. Dunn of the Quorum of the Seventy focused on how small, simple adjustments in life can make crucial differences and bring great blessings, urging listeners to be “1% better” every day.
“As we commit to making small but steady improvements, we are promised a ‘crown of glory that fadeth not away,'” Elder Dunn said. “Every effort to change we make — no matter how tiny it seems to us — just might make the biggest difference in your life.”
Elder Ciro Schmeil of the Seventy added that while repentance and overall discipleship are key aspects in life, the individual journey of personal conversion is different for everyone, and comparison would leave no room to support others.
“To become a better follower of the Savior Jesus Christ is a lifelong journey and we are all in different stages, moving at a different pace,” Elder Schmeil said. “We must keep in mind that this is not a competition, and we are here to love and help each other.”
Remaining on the covenant path
Another major theme of conference was the need to hold steady to the gospel course and not lose sight of what matters most.
“My brothers and sisters, I plead with you to make time for the Lord!” President Nelson said. “Make your own spiritual foundation firm and able to stand the test of time by doing those things that allow the Holy Ghost to be with you always.”
President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency spoke of the great importance of attending weekly church meetings, urging Church members not to become too casual in their worship.
“Members who forego church attendance and rely only on individual spirituality separate themselves from these gospel essentials,” President Oaks said. “The power and blessings of the priesthood, the fullness of restored doctrine, and the motivations and opportunities to apply that doctrine. They forfeit their opportunity to qualify for an eternal perpetuation of their family.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles centered his remarks on the need for everyone to come unto Christ “completely and wholeheartedly,” even when the path ahead is challenging and unclear.
“When difficult things are asked of us, even things contrary to the longings of our heart, remember that the loyalty we pledge to the cause of Christ is to be the supreme devotion of our lives,” Elder Holland said. “There is divine help for every one of us at any hour that we feel to make a change in our behavior.”
General Authority Seventy Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela cited consistent and effective gospel study as a main component of continued conversion to the Savior, especially with the “Come, Follow Me” program.
“Come, Follow Me is a great resource that we have for teaching and learning the gospel, deepening our conversion to Jesus Christ, and helping us to become like Him,” Elder Valenzuela said. “When we study the gospel, we are not simply seeking new information; rather, we are seeking to become a ‘new creature.’”
Elder Alvin. F Meredith III of the Seventy spoke on the importance of “looking down the road” to remember the true purpose and focus of one’s life.
“Understanding our ultimate purpose helps us to determine what our focus should be,” Elder Meredith said. “We cannot play a successful game without knowing the goal, nor can we live a meaningful life without knowing its purpose.”
Peace, strength and love in Christ
Like many previous conferences, speakers spoke a great deal on the blessings Christ offers His disciples in everyday life, including peace, strength and love amid the world’s turbulence.
“The Savior can provide protection and peace to guide you ultimately to safety and shelter from life’s storms,” Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said.
Elder Alfred Kyungu of the Seventy shared that becoming more like the Savior is about “imitating” His qualities, allowing Christ to give courage to stand for the truth.
“To be a follower of Christ is to strive to conform our actions, conduct, and lives to those of the Savior. It is to acquire virtues. It is to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ,” Elder Kyungu said.
Sister Camille N. Johnson, president of the Primary general presidency, shared that Christ offers strength to help “author your story.”
“Because He knows our potential perfectly, He will take us to places we never imagined ourselves,” Sister Johnson said. “The beautiful struggles written into our stories are what draw us closer to the Savior and refine us, making us more like Him.”
Sister Susan H. Porter, who serves as first counselor in the Primary general presidency, spoke of how feeling God’s love can change every aspect of one’s life.
“God’s love is not found in the circumstances of our lives, but in His presence in our lives. We know of His love when we receive strength beyond our own and when His spirit brings peace, comfort and direction,” Sister Porter said.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on Christ’s ability to bring unity despite our differences, asking Church members to replace their contention with love.
“If we are not one, we are not His,” Elder Renlund said. “My invitation is to be valiant in putting our love of God and discipleship of the Savior above all other considerations… When love of Christ envelops our lives, we approach disagreements with meekness, patience, and kindness.”