In this new video series, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reassure those who may feel unwelcome in the Church that they are loved and needed. They also encourage members to extend the hand of fellowship to others, regardless of perceived differences.
Video: No Blessings Denied the Faithful – Elder Gary E. Stevenson
All of us look at our life sometimes and try to evaluate where are we. Where am I in my life?
I’ve always said that when you begin to compare yourself one with another, it either leads to discouragement or at least to pride. Neither of those are good. But that’s often what happens when people begin comparing. They start to think, “my lot in life is better,” or “my lot in life is much worse,” and so it’s not a constructive exercise for us to try to compare our circumstance to another.
Blessings come in the near term, blessings come in the long term, sometimes blessings are in store for us, I believe, after we pass through the veil, in our post-mortal existence. And so we’re in a very finite space right now, and in this finite space it just isn’t beneficial to try to compare adversity that we’ve had or to try to compare the blessings that we have.
We remember when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. One of the things that was introduced when they left was thorns and thistles and we all have them in our lives but we can have confidence that all of those can be overcome, whatever those might be that are placed in front of us. The Lord tells us that there’s going to be adversity along the way, and He even suggests to us that our afflictions will be consecrated for our gain.
Now, sometimes we have to wait some years for this, but ultimately we can be assured that the promise of eternal life is for everyone. Everyone will be rewarded for their faithfulness equally. If you endure to the end, you’ll be blessed. It might be hard today and tomorrow and next month, but it will not always be hard.
You can do this as you exercise your faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement. There will be sometimes adversity and trials that will come to us that seem like they’re almost too hard to bear, but then He says, “nevertheless be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.” That’s a promise from the Lord. Be of good cheer in the midst of your adversity be of good cheer for I will lead you along and I bear testimony that Jesus Christ will lead you along in any adversity that you have.
Video: Lifting others – Sister Carol F. McConkie
It is so important that we understand first of all that everyone’s in a different place along the path and we develop an awareness of the people that are around us. I know people who come to church every Sunday so they can be inspired and uplifted and who just simply walk away feeling judged and unloved, unneeded like there is no place for them at church.
We need to do this differently; we need to be deeply aware of what the purpose of coming to church on Sunday is and make sure that everyone who comes feels loved, needed, accepted and lifted. Everybody has struggles we don’t even know about and It’s so important that we be aware that everyone around us is loved of God and that we need to see them through Christ-like eyes and we cannot allow judgment to dictate the way we interact with people. It’s just simply not right.
I feel that the Lord places us where we are and connects us with the people around us for a purpose, because it’s not only about our own progression, but about helping others progress. And I have come to recognize that we are place where we are so that we can love and lift others.
We just cannot be or even call ourselves a disciple of Christ if we are not helping others along that path. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not marginalize people. People marginalize people, and we have to fix that. We need to be sensitive and love them and allow them the opportunity to grow and to blossom and to be their best selves. They have talents and abilities and personality that is needed in the kingdom of God, and if we’re going to build the kingdom of God on the earth we need everyone to come, and do their part, and we need to recognize that. When anyone’s shadow darkens the door of a chapel they ought to feel immediately embraced, and loved and lifted and inspired when they walk out that door to go and be better because they know the Lord loves them and because they have friends in their faith.
Video: Is there a Place for me? – Elder D. Todd Christofferson
I don’t believe I’ve ever met anybody who didn’t want to belong to something that made them feel worthwhile, that made them feel that they had value. When people wonder, “is there a place for me?” it may be any number of things behind that and now they ask themselves, “Do I fit? Do I belong here? Do they really need me?” and I want to say emphatically, “Yes.” I think of the metaphor of Paul, which I love very much, about the Church is the body of Christ and he says we’re baptized into that body, and he says it’s one body, many members but one body.
I understand, you know, people’s feelings at times that they may not be needed and sometimes others are guilty of saying, “We don’t need this person, we don’t need that person, we’re fine as we are,” neither one is true. That’s not the Christian way, that’s not the way Christ sees us. He sees us, all of us, with infinite worth and whatever our condition at the moment may be, the body of Christ is there to sustain each member.
When a person feels isolated I don’t deny the reality of the feeling and why it’s so natural to feel that way, but each of us, whenever that sense may come upon us, need to stop and think. “Jesus Christ died for me. Jesus Christ thought me worthy of his blood and He loves me, He has hopes for me and He can make a difference in my life. His grace can transform me, and maybe this person sitting next to me, ignoring me or even wanting to move away, maybe he or she doesn’t, but that doesn’t change the reality of what Christ feels toward me and the possibilities I have in Christ.” And it breaks my heart if someone comes and is very vulnerable and says, “I want to try it, I want to be here,” and then get a cold shoulder or a lack of interest, and that’s tragic, it really is tragic. We have to be better than that.
The diversity we find now in the church may be just the beginning, frankly. I think we’ll see greater and greater diversity, in the ancient church there was tremendous diversity. And it’s not just diversity for diversity’s sake, but the fact that people can bring different gifts and perspectives and the wide range of experience and backgrounds and challenges that people face will show us what really is essential in the gospel of Christ. And much of the rest that’s been perhaps acquired over time, and is more cultural than doctrinal, can slip away and we can really learn to be disciples. So we, on the one hand, have got to be better as a people at receiving and helping and walking together with everybody, and on the other hand, that every individual needs to be determined that they’re going to have a place in the kingdom of God. They’re going to have a place in the body of Christ and others who are thoughtless or careless or worse can’t prohibit that, can’t drive them away, can’t take it away from them.
Video: The Savior Understands Me – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
It’s important for every individual to have a relationship with Christ, because salvation is a personal, individual experience. We do not save people by congregations, we are ourselves saved one individual at a time. This is a very personal relationship with Christ. The Savior understands us because He’s not an abstraction, because He is a living, breathing, real Son of God– the living Son of the living God. People who think they’ve sinned too much, or gone too far, or been away for too long and somehow can’t come back into the circle, my declaration is: no one can fall lower than the light of Christ shines. That isn’t possible.
I think my coming to participate in the sacrament, the Lord’s Supper, is the most dramatic way, weekly, that we can show that we want to identify with Him, and that in fact there will be a reciprocal gift and power that comes back from that. As we come to participate and be solidly with the Savior in that act, that solidity and that engagement comes back to us and we leave that congregation, we leave that meeting, with a strength and a power and an understanding from Him that we didn’t have before. Part of it is because we understand Him better, but clearly it represents the fact that He understands us.
My personal experience, as well as my apostolic calling, is to declare personally that Christ does know us. He has walked the thorny, difficult, rock-strewn path of our lives. How He did that, I don’t know, I don’t know! He didn’t have a divorce so you could say, “How does He know about me, because I had one?” I don’t know how He does that, but if somebody out there has had a divorce, He understands.
This sounds awkward to say, but God loved me in a sense almost as much as He loved His only begotten Son. At least I can say this: He gave His only begotten Son for me, and that says something about my worth in His eyes, and my worth in the eyes of the Savior and His willingness to go to Gethsemane and Calvary for me. I’ll never have to do that. I don’t have to bleed, and I don’t have to die for somebody else’s sin, and I don’t have to be that lonely, but I understand it and I love it and I appreciate it. And what it means to me is that He understands me, that He loves me, and that He reaches me. So I can’t explain how that happens I just know that it does.