Elder Gong invites students to write their own ‘best story’ in the Savior

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Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve invited students to write their own best story in Jesus Christ with the help of the scriptures, temple covenants, church leaders and the Holy Ghost in his devotional address on April 11. 

Elder Gong said he has always been intrigued by connections that transform the physical world. In addition to outward connections, covenant belongings connect people with God, each other and their best selves, making them the most transformative relationships of their lives, he said.

Elder Gong began his address by mentioning ChatGPT, which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer. He said the artificial intelligence model “interacts in a conversational way to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises and reject inappropriate requests.”  

An additional transformative technology to ChatGPT was the invention of the plane by the Wright brothers, he said.

“Today we take ubiquitous commercial flight for granted, but consider for a moment the miracle as powered flight first connected and transformed the world,” Elder Gong said. He said he wondered if the Wright family’s faith in God contributed to the brothers’ belief they could change the world for good with their invention.

For the third example of transformative change, Elder Gong referenced the Panama Canal. It was opened in 1914 and transformed trade, travel and communications. Along with ChatGPT and air and space travel, he said individuals take for granted the difference the Panama Canal can make in one’s life.

“For me, ChatGPT, air and space travel, and the Panama Canal dramatically illustrate how physical or digital connection can transform our external environment,” he said. 

Elder Gong said it does not matter much the external physical environment may change, what matters most is that one’s spiritual identity, covenant belonging and God-given agency does not change.

“The spiritual transformation we most desire comes as we are spiritually born again in Jesus Christ — in our actions, our attitudes, our being,” Elder Gong said.

He continued, recounting the story of Lehi and the brass plates. The family and scriptural records were incredibly important to Lehi that he carried them through his journey, Elder Gong said.

Comparing modern technology to the plates, Elder Gong said individuals can carry their own “brass plates”: the scriptures, words of the prophet and living family records.

Belonging by covenant with God and one another is what can create one’s “best story.” Elder Gong said God has everyone’s best interest at heart and that He cares about what His children do. Waiting with faith in the Lord ensures that His promises will come to pass.

Elder Gong encouraged students to “discover purity of heart, clarity of purpose, humility, wise persistence in prioritized productive effort.” He said these discoveries will teach people better than compartmentalizing their actions on Sunday from their actions Monday through Saturday.  

“The Lord is counting on you to speak His truth with kindness, and, in faith and humility, to speak with the power of His truth,” he said.

Elder Gong showed a time-lapse video of a two-day Art Attack mural creation process as his last example. An Art Attack is what his family defines as a time when a community center, special needs school or an orphanage paint an otherwise “ugly” wall into a fun, colorful mural.

He encouraged students to ask themselves, “Is there a neglected wall or place in my life I can transform and bring into full living color through Jesus Christ?” 

Small, positive changes compounded over time are often more transformative than unimplemented big hopes, he said. Elder Gong said charity, the pure love of Christ, endures forever.

“This charity comes as we know who we are, whose we are, and as we discover and become our own best story,” he said.

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